Performance-related pay is 'ineffective in schools', study finds

Academics warn that linking pay to performance will not improve school standards or teacher retention

John Roberts

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Performance-related pay will not be effective in schools in the same way it is in other areas of the economy, according to a new study.

Academics warn that it will do little help to improve teacher retention or raise standards in schools.

The government reformed teacher pay in schools in 2013, giving heads more freedom to decide how much they pay teachers and how quickly their salary can rise.

Now, a new study into the use of “human resource management” in schools has questioned the benefits of performance-related pay in the classroom.

It says: “Increased use of performance-related pay and performance monitoring, which do improve workplace performance elsewhere in the economy, are ineffective in schools.”

The report found the only human resource management (HRM) practice that was effective in both schools and other areas was the intensive provision of training.

It also found that schools could use HRM approaches to improve their finances.

The authors said: “The findings are important for government policy. Headteachers have increasing autonomy over managerial decisions, not only in academies, where they are no longer local government-controlled, but across the whole schools’ sector, so it’s important that they understand how to use that autonomy when adopting HRM.

“We find HRM is linked to improvements in schools’ financial performance, something that’s vital given the parlous state of school finances. But it does little to tackle teacher turnover, something that is of increasing concern. Our findings also raise concerns about the government’s hopes that greater use of performance pay for teachers will bring about improvements in school performance.”

The authors say their study is the first to investigate whether “what works” in schools is the same or different to what usually works elsewhere.

It says “incentivising” employees through individual and group performance pay allows private sector firms to attract the best talent and increases worker effort. Academics also highlight the success of fostering employee ‘ownership’ of the production process through team-working, initially pushed by Japanese manufacturing firms like Toyota.

But it says that it is only recently that such techniques have been used in state education.

A survey carried out for the Department for Education in 2015, but only published last year, found that that vast majority of local authority maintained schools (99 per cent) and the majority of academies (62 per cent) had implemented pay reforms.

The most common reforms to classroom teachers’ pay were to relate all progression to performance; to enable teachers’ pay to progress at different rates and to abolish automatic pay progression on the main pay range.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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