For our last report we explored the suggestion by the Department for Education that our pay recommendations might include provision for additional excellence points which governing bodies would be advised to award. The DFE added that this was subject to such an approach not having the effect of increasing the overall cost of our recommendations.
We saw attractions in such an approach, but believed that it could work only if it was clear to schools that they had the resources to implement any recommendations. In view of this and the newness of the pay structure for classroom teachers, we did not consider the time right to pursue this approach.
However, we requested the department to develop a suitable funding system whereby money forming part of an overall settlement could be channelled directly to schools. We said that if such a system could be put in place we would be ready in principle to make recommendations which would facilitate the use of pay discretions in the way envisaged.
In response, the DFE said that the existing Grants for Educational Support and Training arrangements could in principle be adapted to channel money directly to schools to fund the award of excellence points.
The National Employers felt that a direct funding mechanism for excellence points would be contrary to the established principle of devolved budgeting and make the overall funding system more complex. There was continued general opposition among the teacher unions towards the principle of discretionary excellence points.
When we suggested the idea of using a separate funding mechanism for excellence points we saw it as complementing further guidance which might be offered on ways in which that discretion should be exercised to reward excellent performance.
We recommend (left) the basis for guidance to be provided to governing bodies on how to relate the pay of heads and deputies more closely to their performance. We would monitor how this worked in practice and in doing so consider how the indicators involved could be applied in an appropriate way to classroom teachers, and therefore be relevant to the award of excellence points. For the moment, therefore, we have decided to put to one side the idea of making some separate provision within our recommendations for the award of excellence points.
Meanwhile, we are not convinced that GEST would be a suitable, sufficiently stable mechanism. We invite the department to consider further whether a better alternative could be found.