Performance-related pay with no surprises

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With an estimated 79 per cent of a school’s total budget spent on staffing, it makes sense to ensure its greatest financial outlay presents the greatest value for money.

Contrary to the views portrayed in the media, I believe that performance-related pay (PRP) speaks positively about the status of teaching, and ensures the focus on decisions about pay and promotion are based on objective evidence and a consideration of the impact that a teacher is having on very specific aspects of school improvement.

However, it is vitally important that schools implement robust, fair and transparent review processes. PRP linked to specifically negotiated and agreed targets, with clear success criteria and evidence, gives teachers a very strong steer on their priorities for that year. It also clarifies the evidence base they need to achieve it.

‘No surprise’ pay reviews are achievable if the policy is approved by all and expectations are shared – a culture of professional engagement and open dialogue is essential.

Top tips for PRP reviews with ‘no surprises’
Here are a few points to consider:

  • Be transparent – set clear performance targets and, where appropriate, link them to national Teachers’ Standards.
  • Agree and publish protocols and timetables that are shared and explicit.
  • Involve staff in discussions about the protocols and procedures to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
  • Agree robust objectives that reflect the level of challenge appropriate for that individual’s position.
  • Agree in advance the evidence to be gathered by the reviewer – for example, lesson observations – and that it is measured and specific.
  • Familiarise all staff with the protocols and procedures that will be applied if appropriate progress is not made – for example, intervention strategies that are agreed and understood by all.
  • Ensure that the training and development programme effectively meets the needs of individuals and groups of staff, and that impact measures are established in advance of support being provided.
  • Be consistent and fair – ensure that reviewees and reviewers conform to the same protocols, timetables and expectations, and that time is made available on an agreed 'needs basis' for ongoing dialogue and discussions regarding progress.
  • Make professional development/coaching available to all – if staff are to meet their objectives, they will need support, training and coaching.
  • Train new reviewers appropriately once school protocols and procedures are in place and ensure that reviewees understand the aforementioned points.
  • Use systems that ensure consistency – for example, online solutions – to ensure that the process and workforce measurements are reliable across all staff.

Ultimately, PRP will help schools make better use of public money and ensure that students get the best return on their school’s investment in staff. Those schools that master the performance-related pay process effectively will be in a strong position to create and develop a very positive and committed workforce. The aim is for every teacher to understand and be rewarded for the important role they play in enabling the school as a whole to improve outcomes and results.

Denise Inwood is a former assistant headteacher, now Managing Director of BlueSky.

School Leadership Today