Performance Related Pay in Schools
- NUT members oppose the use of PRP in schools - they think it is unfair and unworkable. The evidence suggests they are right.
- PRP does not improve educational standards or outcomes. OECD research on the impact of PRP in teaching has concluded that “the overall picture reveals no relationship between average student performance in a country and the use of performance-based pay schemes.”1sup> A wide range of other research including from the USA2 and Portugal has suggested that it has no overall impact on achievement or may even reduce it.
- PRP does not motivate teachers either. Professor David Marsden’s 2009 study, ‘The Paradox of Performance Related Pay Systems: Why Do We Keep Adopting Them in the Face of Evidence that they Fail to Motivate?’3 sums up its conclusions in its title.
- PRP undermines and disrupts effective school improvement. It encourages teachers to work in isolation, rather than pooling their expertise. Schools are learning communities - good teachers build their students’ achievement on foundations laid by other teachers and support staff. Teachers work best when they work collaboratively.
- If we are serious about school improvement, we should instead focus on the lessons of proven successes - such as the City Challenge model in London and the Midlands, declared by researchers to have produced school improvement which is not only “measurable and sustainable” but also “more cost effective than other strategies” 4
- PRP distorts teaching and leads to narrower choices & opportunities for students. Research on PRP proposals for teachers in Canada concluded that teachers focus on matters relevant to their pay at the expense of other matters, “whether those are different subject areas or soft skills or relationships with students” 5 As the Local Schools Network has argued, PRP will steer teachers towards the ‘best’ classes (the easiest to teach and highest achieving) rather than the hardest to help succeed 6.
- Quality of teaching cannot be measured, quantified or ranked in the way PRP demands.Teaching is a professional skill rather than an exact science. The Sutton Trust says that schools should rely on a combination of approaches to gain a full picture of teacher effectiveness and should never assess teachers on data from a single year7.
- PRP is doing nothing to resolve the mounting crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. A YouGov survey commissioned by the NUT and published in October 2015 found that two-thirds (67%) of respondents were not in favour of performance related pay, and of those, 84% believed it was ‘not practicable’ to match an individual teacher’s contribution to student outcomes. The same survey found that more than half (53%) of respondents were thinking of leaving the profession in the next two years8.
- PRP is an unnecessary and bureaucratic burden. School leaders and governors must devote lengthy periods of time to discussions on pay and on pay appeals - diverting time away from the key challenges of securing improvements in teaching and learning.
- PRP is turning Ofsted into the Government’s pay police. Ofsted inspectors are expected to look at the relationship between teaching in the school and pay progression, requiring school leaders to justify pay progression decisions - undermining the already tenuous trust between schools and Ofsted.
- PRP often leads to discriminatory outcomes. It is well known that PRP favours men not women, while evidence from the performance threshold system in schools has shown that black and minority ethnic teachers were disproportionately likely to fail to progress.
- This has been confirmed by the latest NUT survey on pay progression decisions taken for September 2015 which found that Black/Black British teachers were again more likely to have been denied pay progression than their White British colleagues, and that part time teachers – who are more likely to be female - were again more likely to have been turned down than full timers.
- PRP does not lead to "the best teachers being paid more". Pressures on school funding mean faster pay progression for some will only happen at the expense of others. In schools where every teacher is performing well, that makes no sense at all.
- What does work is paying all teachers better. Another study looking across OECD countries in 2011 concluded both that “higher pay leads to improved pupil performance” and that the highest performing countries have well paid teachers whose status in society is high. This won’t be achieved by focusing on PRP for the few.
- PRP in teaching does not help raise standards. It undermines professional co-operation and hampers school improvement. It is unfair, promotes inequality and makes pay determination costlier and more bureaucratic. It is actually all about cutting the pay bill for teachers - which is why the NUT continues to oppose it.
1 Does performance-based pay improve teaching?, PISA in Focus (May 2012 issue), OECD http://www.oecd.org/pisa/50328990.pdf
2 Does Whole-School Performance Pay Improve Student Learning? Evidence from the New York City Schools Goodman et al, Education Next, v11 n2 p67-71 (Spr 2011); Teacher Pay for Performance - Experimental Evidence from the Project on Incentives in Teaching, Springer et al, NCPI Vanderbilt University, Sept
3 Paradoxes of modernisation: unintended consequences of public policy reforms, ed Hood & Margetts, OUP 2009
4 Evaluation of the City Challenge Programme, DfE Research Report DFE-RR215, Prof M Hutchings et al, Jun 2012
5 Eight reasons merit pay for teachers is a bad idea, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, October 2010 http://osstf.weebly.com/uploads/5/5/6/3/5563823/meritpay.pdf
6 Performance Related Pay: The Problem, Not the Solution, Roger Titcombe, Local Schools Network, 2013
7 Testing Teachers: what works best for teacher evaluation and appraisal, Sutton Trust, March 2013
8 YouGov (October 2015). Survey commissioned by NUT, undertaken June-July 2015. Total sample size 1,020 teachers in England. Figures have been weighted and are representative of the school population in England by phase and type.