Written Evidence to School Teachers’ Review Body (May and June 2012)

Date: 15.06.12
Voice’s evidence to STRB and joint union evidence.


21st Report of School Teachers’ Review Body and reactions (5 December 2012 and 7 January 2013) 

Supplementary evidence to STRB (June 2012) 

Joint union supplementary evidence to the STRB (June  2012) (pdf) 

Teachers’ mobility and local pay: A report for the six teaching unions by the Labour Research Department (May 2012) (pdf) 

Regional variations in pay for UK graduates and graduate comparator occupations – the regional pay debate: a research report for the Six Teacher Unions – ASCL, ATL, NAHT, NUT, UCAC and Voice – from Incomes Data Services (IDS) (May 2012) (pdf)


MAY 2012


1. Voice is pleased to respond to the STRB’s invitation to make written submissions on the matters referred to the Review Body by the Secretary of State in his letter of 21 February.  Voice has worked together with 5 of the other teacher unions to prepare a response to Part A of that remit on “market facing” pay in local areas and therefore the 6 union joint response constitutes Part A of Voice’s submission.  This evidence should be read alongside and in the context of the 6 union submission and the Opening Statement of Principles.  That submission will be referred to and certain themes picked up again here.

2. This response addresses Parts B and C of the current remit, namely

  • How pay scales, including the main and upper pay scales should be reformed to more effectively link pay and performance including arrangements for progression and
  • What other reforms should be made to teachers’ pay and conditions in order to raise the status of the profession and best support the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers in all schools.

3. As in Part A, Voice finds the wording of the remit far too prescriptive and the wording makes assumptions that Voice will challenge – ie, that there is a need for reform of the pay scales, that the current pay scales do not link pay and performance effectively and that other reforms are necessary to support the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers.

Section B – The link between pay and performance

4. The implication in the wording of the remit questions for Section B is that the current pay and progression arrangements for teachers do not link pay and performance or, if they do so, do not link them effectively.  Voice challenges this view.  The link between pay and performance is not new in School Teachers' Pay and Conditions and in the 12 years since the introduction of the Threshold and Upper Pay Spine has become increasingly well defined and understood.  The pay system as it stands at the moment facilitates the additional reward of teachers who take on additional responsibility and who show excellent performance in the classroom – often both!

5. When the Upper Pay Spine was introduced, Voice supported it as an incentive for good experienced teachers to stay in the classroom and as a system of rewarding their expertise and raising their potential salary.  At the same time, we were clear that this was a “something for something” arrangement and that access to the scale and progression on it would be linked to performance.

6. Performance Management or Appraisal arrangements are statutorily in place for all teachers.  (2006 Performance Management Regulations, 2012 The Education (School Teachers Appraisal) (England) Act.  School Teacher Appraisal (Wales) 2002 (amended 2011).  From September 2012 successful Appraisal will depend upon the teacher meeting the relevant Teaching Standards (England).  These give school leaders and relevant bodies the relevant up to date evidence and information on which to make pay decisions.

Question viii

What evidence is there that current pay and progression arrangements need reforming in order to more effectively link pay and performance?

7. As outlined above, Voice believes that the current arrangements already do link pay and performance.  The 2011 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document states that progression on the Main pay spine should be one point for each year of employment “unless notification has taken place in accordance with sub-paragraph 1.6 that the teacher’s service has not been satisfactory in respect of any such year” (para 18.1.1 (b)).  Excellent performance may be rewarded by a 2 point salary increase.

8. Payment on the Upper Pay Spine requires that “the teacher makes an application for assessment against the Threshold Standards …… and is assessed as meeting those standards” (STPCD 2011 para 19.4.1 (a)).  The criteria for progression on the Upper Pay Spine are clarified (para 59) as “a successful performance review” “continued to meet the Threshold Standards” “Grown professionally by developing their teaching expertise post-threshold”.  U3 Teachers have further descriptors of the expectations of their role in the school.

9. Progression on the Leadership Pay Spine is also subject to there having been “a sustained high quality of performance having regard to the performance objectives agreed or set” (para 7.3 (b) i).  The progression criteria for the Leadership Group are further clarified at paragraph 57 which again refers to “high quality performance”.

10. From the above, it is clear to Voice that in the current arrangements pay and performance already are linked and it is therefore our view that no further changes or strengthening of that link are required.

11. Question ix

What changes in current pay and progression arrangements for (a) the Main Scale and (b) the upper pay scale would enable schools or more effectively link pay and performance?

12. As stated above we do not believe that there is a need for change.  If schools are not managing pay and performance effectively, then it is the practice within those individual schools which needs to change and improve, not the national pay and progression arrangements.  When used properly, as they are in the majority of schools, they are effective.

13. Question x

What other factors need addressing to 

  • enable schools effectively to manage arrangements to link pay to performance and

  • help teachers to develop their professional skills.

14. Schools’ ability to manage systems in an effective and consistent manner has been aided in the past by clear guidance on how to implement things such as Performance Management, Assessment of Teachers who wish to cross the Threshold etc.  This has ensured, as far as it is possible to do so, consistency across schools and Local Authorities, thereby treating teachers across the 2 countries covered by the Pay Document in an equitable manner.

15. However, the current government is moving away from this and is driving decisions about the implementation of legislation down, not only to local, but to individual school level.  The most recent example of this is the 20th Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Act, referred to above.  Proper implementation of Appraisal is key in applying the pay and progression arrangements of the STPCD fairly and consistently.  Voice feels that devolution to individual school polices, even though these policies have to contain certain compulsory elements, is not the way to do this.

16. In order to develop their professional skills and performance teachers need to have access to ongoing professional development appropriate to their career stage.  To determine the professional needs of an individual teacher, performance management or appraisal has to be effective and to result in a clear action plan.  The barriers to professional development are typically time and money.  If schools do not have sufficient funding for teachers to access training or to be covered so that they observe or work collaboratively with others, then they cannot support their teachers’ development, even if the will to do so is there.

17. Voice feels that professional support to teachers in the early years of teaching is key.  It is during this time that they develop the skills in the classroom that will become the foundation of their practice in years to come.  It is also the period during which the majority of teachers leave the profession if they are going to.  This has enormous cost implications in terms of teacher training and schools involved, and militates against recruitment and retention of high quality teachers which we address in Part C.

Part C – Recruitment and Retention of High Quality Teachers

18. This submission is primarily concerned with the teachers’ salary system and salary progression and the need, or not, to make adjustments to this system.  Any structure that fails to enhance the morale and motivation of teachers will not solve the problems of recruitment and retention.  Any shortage of teachers will impede the development of a first class education system for all children and young people.  However, the importance of teacher morale and motivation has not been given the priority it deserves.

19. The current climate is one of almost daily announcements by the government on education policy or initiatives many of which imply either overtly or covertly that there are too many incompetent or poorly performing teachers in post.  Our members tell us that morale in the profession at the moment is low and in our view this has far more impact on recruitment and retention of teachers than do the mechanics of the pay system.

20. That is not to say that pay levels are unimportant.  Clearly for teaching to attract the requisite number of good new graduates or career changers each year it has to offer a salary that is competitive with other graduate professions.  Much has been done in recent years in terms of improvements in teachers pay and conditions of service.  However, the recession has stalled some of that progress and work still remains to be done to ensure that these improvements are sustained and that further developments in the national pay and conditions framework help to consolidate and enhance the attractiveness of the profession.  Voice is clear that this is crucial to retain existing good quality teachers and to make teaching a career for high calibre graduates in pursuit of raising standards and the provision of the best possible education for all pupils.

21. Question xi

What are the barriers in the existing pay and conditions framework to recruiting and retaining high quality teachers?

22. For teaching to remain an attractive profession the baselines of pay have got to be competitive.  Considerable progress on this in recent years has been offset to some degree by the current pay freeze.  Voice fears that once the freeze is lifted ground will have been lost and that a substantial increase will be needed to pull teaching into line with other graduate professions.

23. Providing that they are genuinely available to all teachers, in whichever school, opportunities for pay progression under the current system are, in our view, adequate and not a barrier either to recruitment or retention.  It is when certain pathways, for example progression on the UPS or availability of TLRs, appear to be blocked that teachers can become demoralised.

Question xii

What existing provisions of the framework might be clarified or simplified to encourage their use or to make them more effective?

24. Work on the pay document over the last 8-10 years has been intended not only to make the pay arrangements more effective in delivery but also to simplify them and their application.  It seems bizarre to us that in Section A of the remit the government is asking us to consider the possibility and the impact of local “market facing” pay, which would make the pay structure in England and Wales immensely more complex than it is at present, and yet here is asking what may be done to simplify provisions?

25. Whilst we would not rule out further changes to simplify the pay document, we do agree that more could be done to encourage the use of the flexibilities that are already there.  It is our position that, if used, the current flexibilities within the system are sufficient to accommodate and react to the needs of the individual school.  There is evidence (mainly anecdotal) that some aspects of the pay system, for example the awarding of double points on the main pay spine, the use of Recruitment and Retention payments and the or Excellent Teacher Scheme are underused.  This is sometimes on financial grounds, but often as headteachers are loathe to use something they see as unequal and divisive.

26. Despite the clarification in the Pay Document referred to above in paragraphs, the ORC International Study of Teachers Pay Issues carried out for the OME (March 2011) suggests that headteachers still struggle with progression on the Upper Pay Spine (para 2.12) but at the same time wanted scope to reward good performance!

Question xiii

What other changes to the framework might be made to provide greater flexibility for headteachers (and others) to recruit and retain high quality teachers?

27. As we have made clear above, Voice believes that the framework contains sufficient flexibility to achieve this end.  This view was supported by the majority of Head Teachers surveyed in the ORC International Research for the OME (2010) where 67% pronounced that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the current system.

28. Of the additional flexibilities suggested by participants in that survey, Voice is opposed to the introduction of any kind of bonus or “one off” payments in the system.  One of the key features of the current system is that it is transparent.  One only has to consider the news of recent months to see how bonuses can and have been misused and we feel very strongly that they have no place in a public service profession like teaching.

29. Similarly Voice is against any weakening of the Upper Pay Spine.  As covered in Section B above, we believed that fair and transparent pay progression is essential for the recruitment and retention of good teachers.  Voice believes that UPS points should remain permanent and portable, thereby representing real career progression.

30. As cited above, we do believe that Recruitment and Retention Allowances are underused, in many cases for budgetary reasons.  In order for these Allowances to achieve what they were designed to, Voice could contemplate an expansion of the R and R allowance, both in financial terms, with a higher upper range and/or in terms of the period for which they may be awarded.  Criteria for the award of these allowances should, as now, be specified in the school’s pay policy.

Question xiv

What other changes to the pay and conditions framework would help to raise the status of the teaching profession?

31. It is crucial that baseline pay should be comparative with that of other all graduate professions.  It is our view that following the period of the pay freeze these levels will need to be revisited to ensure that they remain appropriate for a high status profession.

32. Pay progression in teaching remains relatively slow when compared with some other professions.  With this in mind it is essential that the Upper Pay Spine remains genuinely available to all who meet the criteria and that further hurdles are not placed in the way of pay progression.

33. However, Voice believes that the status of the teaching profession cannot be evaluated purely in financial terms.  How teachers are perceived and valued by those who make public pronouncements about the profession and the message that these send to the public are crucial.  So too is the morale of the teachers who are doing the job and how they portray the attractiveness and satisfaction of the profession to others.  The status of teaching is not a matter that can be addressed only through the pay and conditions framework. 




This submission sets out the views of the six teacher unions named above.  We represent the overwhelming majority of school teachers at all levels of the profession and in all parts of England and Wales.  We ask the STRB to pay appropriate attention to the united view of the profession on the matters addressed in this submission.


We have considered the Secretary of State's remit together with the Chancellor's December letter to STRB members and the Government's recent evidence to the Pay Review Bodies. 

In summary, we are opposed to any moves towards “market facing” or local pay; and we reject the various assertions made by the Government in support of local pay as being fundamentally inaccurate and misguided.

We do not believe that local pay would have any of the benefits which the Government claims for it.  The case advanced in the Government’s evidence to the OME on the economics of local pay is weak and based on flimsy and questionable statistical analysis, in particular in its comparisons between public and private sector pay and impact on local labour markets.  

We believe that a national pay structure is essential to the efficient operation of a national education service comprising almost 25,000 schools and some half a million teachers.  We fear that, if enacted, local pay would substantially harm both the education service and the economy. 

The attached document reviews the proposals and the available evidence and focuses on the following arguments in particular: 

  • Local pay in teaching will not help raise standards.  Schools in disadvantaged areas, already facing the greatest challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers and providing opportunities for the most disadvantaged students, would be the most likely to find themselves in lower pay areas.  This will create even greater obstacles to overcoming inequality and raising standards of attainment for all.
  • Local pay in teaching is likely to inhibit teacher mobility and create long-term teacher shortages in areas where pay was reduced.  There is no obvious reason why it would assist with teacher supply problems elsewhere.
  • Local pay variations offend against the principles of equal pay for work of equal value and the “rate for the job”.  They would have a substantial impact on morale and motivation among those teachers losing out as a result of their introduction.
  • The potential equalities impact of local pay must be carefully assessed.  Pay cuts might fall most heavily upon women teachers.
  • Local pay would make pay determination processes costlier and more bureaucratic, whether local pay variations are determined at some central level or at school level.
  • The inter-relationships with pay flexibility must be considered.  The limited use of existing pay flexibilities suggests that schools do not believe that the pay structure should develop in this way.  Increasing the scope for variations in pay could lead to schools competing for staff and might actually be inflationary.
  • We anticipate substantial problems in reconciling the introduction of local pay with the achievement of a clear and transparent funding system and more effective financial planning by schools.
  • Local pay is not in common use in the private sector.  In education, independent schools and academies choose to use national pay scales as the basis for their own pay practices.
  • Local pay will not assist economic recovery.  Instead, by cutting spending power, it will have an adverse impact on local economies.

We therefore ask the STRB to reject the proposal to amend the current national pay structure in order to promote local pay.


We will consider the issues raised in the remit letter in our individual submissions.  We are all agreed, however, that in undertaking its review on this area, the STRB must be extremely careful, when considering the issues involved, to ensure that its deliberations and conclusions are based on robust evidence – currently lacking in many respects in relation to the operation of the STPCD’s current provisions – and reflect the need to maintain teacher morale and support recruitment and retention.


The final element of the STRB’s remit seeks recommendations on other “reforms” in order to “raise the status of the profession” and “support the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers in all schools”. 

We will again consider this aspect of the remit in our individual submissions which will set out policy aspirations from our individual organisations.  However, we wish to take the opportunity offered by this joint submission to say publicly that we share a common view that many of the current Government’s initiatives are having precisely the opposite effects.  

While we appreciate that the STRB may not wish to address these matters in its report, we wish to make it clear to the STRB, and to all other audiences, that the Government’s actions are profoundly inconsistent with a genuine desire to improve the status of teaching or to promote teaching as a career.

Local Pay: Joint Union Evidence in full


Further information:

School Teachers' Review Body (STRB)

Secretary of State's letter of 21 February 2012 (pdf)

DfE's evidence (May 2012)

Call for evidence on local pay (OME)

Letter from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the School Teachers’ Pay Review Body (pdf).

Chancellor’s letter to Pay Review Bodies & Government Economic Evidence



Principal Professional Officer Deborah Simpson
Email: deborahsimpson@voicetheunion.org.uk

General Secretary Philip Parkin
Email: philipparkin@voicetheunion.org.uk

Voice Press Office
Email: pressoffice@voicetheunion.org.uk

Tel: 01332 372337


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