Teaching unions hit out over performance-related pay

Ministers are facing a backlash over plans to introduce a system of performance-related pay in schools as teachers’ unions could propose fresh industrial action in an attempt to block moves to rip up existing national salary scales for teachers. This is from the Telegraph…

It was claimed that the proposal – outlined in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – represented a “war on teachers” and would lead to “unfairness and discrimination” in staffrooms.

The two biggest teaching unions – the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT – will meet early next week to discuss the proposals, it has been confirmed.

Both unions are already taking part in joint work-to-rule action as part of a long-running protest over changes to pensions, public sector pay freezes and mounting workloads.

It is likely that a move towards performance-related pay will add to their list of grievances and could lead to an escalation of the action.

The pay reforms – covering England and Wales – are being based on proposals set out by the School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations to the Government on teacher salaries and working conditions.

It comes despite the Government deciding to retain national pay arrangements in the NHS and prison service.

The move has been backed by head teachers’ leaders.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Progression on the basis of good performance is a sensible principle, if hard to implement, and is certainly the norm in most sectors.

“We feel this is sufficient to reward performance, without more radical and divisive elements like bonuses.”

But Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, suggested that the independent pay review body had been “leant on”, adding that its recommendations were “seriously out of step” with those made for other parts of the public sector.

“Teachers may be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that the independent STRB has been leant on,” she said.

“If implemented, the STRB’s recommendations would leave behind the wreckage of a national pay framework which will be incapable of delivering consistent, fair and transparent approaches to pay.

“These proposals place virtually unlimited discretion on teachers’ pay in the hands of head teachers at a time when unfairness and discrimination are already rife.”

She said union leaders would meet “to consider our response to this very serious development which is at the heart of our trade dispute”.

“The key proposals already give us serious cause for concern,” she said.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said cross-union talks would be held to “discuss the way forward”.

“With the profession under such continual attack and criticism, the mandatory national pay scales are one of the few things that have kept the profession attractive,” she said.

“This decision comes in the same week as Government figures showing that the number of teachers leaving English state schools rose by almost a fifth in one year. It is children who will suffer when the profession is unable to recruit and retain teachers.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which is not involved in the on-going industrial action, said the proposals were a “disaster for children’s education”.

“Hard-up schools will undoubtedly decide to deny pay rises to teachers, to help balance their budgets now they won’t have to implement any pay recommendations,” she said.

“It is also bad news for schools as there is likely to be an escalation in tension and disputes within schools as heads use their new discretions to hold down salaries and thus keep their costs in check.”

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