Government proposes performance-related pay for teachers
In a move to improve the status and attractiveness of the teaching profession, the UK government published proposals in December 1998 for a new career and reward structure for school teachers. The proposed reforms received a mixed reaction from teaching unions.
On 3 December 1998, the Department for Education and Employment published a consultative green paper, Meeting the challenge of change, outlining plans for a radical reform of the teaching profession. One key objective is the introduction of a new career and pay structure, designed to raise teaching standards by rewarding high performance by classroom teachers. At present, progression beyond the top of the main professional grade is dependent not on classroom performance but on teachers taking on managerial responsibility within schools. The government is now proposing a two-tier pay scale for classroom teachers, with a new higher scale separated from the existing one by a performance threshold, based on appraisal and assessment. To cross the threshold, teachers will need to demonstrate "high and sustained levels of achievement and commitment". Head teachers will assess and review teachers' progress, underpinned by external assessment.
Other priorities targeted by the planned reforms are to: strengthen school leadership by additional financial rewards and new training arrangements; improve teacher training; and provide better support for teachers in the classroom.
The green paper received a mixed reaction from the teaching unions. For the National Union of Teachers (NUT), general secretary Doug McAvoy said that the government had recognised the need to enhance the status and attractiveness of the teaching profession, but that performance-related pay would be "open to cronyism and discrimination". Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), gave the green paper a "guarded welcome" but said that the task of implementing its proposals was "daunting". He welcomed the broad thrust of the proposal to relate pay to appraisal but said that "many crucial details remain to be agreed". However, "the potential for a major breakthrough for the classroom teacher is there." Local authorities, which employ state school teachers, reacted favourably to the green paper.