By Rachel Foster on 15 Sep 2017
Public sector pay was once again taking centre stage in politics and the media at the very moment that the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) had sent their annual report to the Secretary of State for Education on teachers’ pay back in July.
In line with previous years and along with education policy generally, the national pay award announced by the Secretary of State determined only to raise the minimum and maximum of the main pay range by 2% and for there to be a 1% uplift on the minimum and maximum of all other ranges and allowances, including headteacher pay ranges. This results in all the other remaining pay decisions, including any uplifts to the middle of the ranges, to be determined at a local level, by each educational establishment. This now places the responsibility directly with school leaders not only to ensure that their pay policies are updated in a timely fashion, at what is already a very busy time of the academic year, but also to ensure they reflect the fiscal pressures that are mounting across the education sector. This can be difficult when trying to balance the need to retain good staff with adequate pay and to attract new recruits.
The commerciality of teachers’ pay being linked to performance has been an issue since its introduction a number of years ago and has been difficult for some schools to introduce completely, due to perceived sensitivities and union pressure. Conversely, headteachers’ pay has a long history of being determined by performance, to the extent that poor results could now lead to the exit of a leader, inviting comparisons to football managers! The media often headlines the high levels of leadership pay, although it is actually restricted by the requirements of the national conditions for teachers’ pay, commonly referred to as the ‘Blue Book’. References to the Individual School Range (ISR) and the need for independent external advice to be sought by the governing body means that there are a number of hurdles for governing bodies to overcome when utilising the permitted flexibilities. One Education HR has been providing advice and support on teachers’ pay for many years to all types of schools, MATs and special schools, which have their own different factors to consider!
Messages from other organisations can add to the confusion and demands that school leaders face. Naturally, teaching unions, including the newly formed National Education Union (NEU), are demanding higher pay increases for their members. Local authorities that no longer determine teachers’ pay can also send out ‘recommendations’, but ultimately it is the legal responsibility of each governing body to determine and sign off their updated pay policy, ensuring it is aligned with other HR policies, such as the appraisal and capability procedures.
Maintaining HR polices can be all consuming for schools trying to prioritise between what is best practice, what are useful tools for leaders and what are actually statutory requirements; especially in the complex world of education with additional regulations that can have a huge impact on employment rights, such as safeguarding. Sometimes it is good to refresh our understanding, (even the most experienced of us!) and take a step back to audit what processes and procedures have been accumulated over the years.
One Education HR are providing a breakfast briefing to enable school leaders to streamline their policies and get to know the latest updates. For more information or guidance on how we can support you, please contact us using the form below or by calling 0844 967 1112.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rachel is the HR Director at One Education, and is a qualified employment solicitor and CIPD HR professional. She has worked for many years in the education sector both as a lawyer and as a senior HR advisor.