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School leaders doubt whether performance-related pay will improve standards

Only a quarter of school leaders believe that performance-related pay will improve standards in their school, according to a new survey.

In addition, over a third of school leaders (35.8 per cent) polled by school leader support website The Key believe that the policy will negatively affect their relationship with staff. 

Performance-related pay (PRP), which came into force as a policy in September 2013, has proved controversial, with unions warning before the implementation that teaching could become "like the football transfer market". 

However, Linda Culling, assistant headteacher at the John Cabot Academy in South Gloucestershire, said that if management staff kept a focus on people, rather than policies, PRP could be easily implemented.

"Integrity and honesty are the key," she said. "If you get those right, then you can work with colleagues, no matter how their pay is affected by their performance.”

In an opinion piece for TES, Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange, cites a poll run by the think tank that found nine out of ten teachers wanted to be paid according to the quality of their teaching.

The Key's survey found that worries were highest at primary level; only a fifth of teachers (20.5 per cent) believed that PRP would help with standards and two-fifths (40.2 per cent) predicted that the policy would negatively affect relationships with staff.

Despite this, Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union, the NAHT, said that in his experience school heads were generally “in tune” with the concept of PRP.

“Heads are in broad agreement with the principle,” he said. “But PRP is wrapped up with so many other reforms and tinkerings with pay grades that there is still an air of general scepticism.”

This view was echoed by Nicki Mobley, headteacher of a primary school on the Isle of Wight, who said: "“I feel that there are good principles behind this policy but some staff (not in my own school) have concerns about whether this will be fairly applied.
"I also feel that morale in the profession is generally low, that we have a number of issues within our own authority and schools and the pressure upon senior leaders is continually mounting, often with limited support.” 

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