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Teacher pay rises of £1,000 have 'zero impact' on pupil achievement

Increasing teachers' pay by up to £1,000 has “zero impact” on student attainment, a new study suggests.

The research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies reveals that where salaries in similar school catchment areas differed by around £1,000, the higher-paid teachers did not perform any better than their less well-paid colleagues.

Researchers looked at primary schools on either side of the boundary of the London fringe, where salaries differ by just 5 per cent – about £1,000.

"We find little evidence that these higher teacher salary scales increase pupil attainment in English and maths at the end of primary school,” the study says. “The difference in pupil attainment between schools on either side of the pay boundary is very close to zero for both English and maths.”

According to Luke Sibieta, senior research economist for the IFS, it reveals that modest increases in pay are among the least effective methods of attracting high-performing staff, but suggested performance-related pay could be a better method.

“What our analysis shows is that school should look at other means to attract highly-effective teachers, such as other aspects of working conditions,” Mr Sibieta said.

“It is particularly interesting for academies because they have freedoms over pay, but they often don't use them very much and our research suggests that they are very sensible in not using them.

“Linking pay to performance may be more effective in attracting better staff as studies have shown this suggests modest positive results.”    

He added, however, that the study did not look at large increases in teachers’ pay, which could have bigger impacts on student performance over longer periods.

Performance-related pay (PRP) is being introduced for all teachers in England this year, with the abolition of automatic pay rises based on length of service.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “This research reflects the current obsession around PRP for teachers and produces evidence that undermines PRP.

“But this sort of research misses the point about teacher rewards and pupil outcomes. The research around London Challenge tends to confirm the importance of the pay increase in London, won by the NUT action, in stabilising the teacher workforce.

“So pay does matter – not differences in pay from teacher to teacher, but in ensuring there are enough qualified teachers.”

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