Performance-related pay

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A Silver Lining to the PRP Cloud?

The final day of Summer Term, the students have been waved on their happy way for the summer holidays, staff leaving speeches, with a few tears shed, have been completed and there is now a few cleaners, the site supervisors and myself left in the building.  Time to write a Pay Policy me thinks.

Over recent weeks I have been meeting with staff, from both St. Mary’s Catholic College & Christ the King Catholic Primary School, to try and shape our new Pay Policy.  We are part of a hard federation and this was my first real challenge as an Executive Headteacher to bring together a primary and secondary perspective into one document.  I’m gratefully particularly to John Tomsett whose blogs on Performance Related Pay were particularly useful and who was generous in sharing the policies and resources developed within his school.  I used the Daniel Pink video, from one of his blogs, as the start of the process and it took any potential conflict out of the process – we were all on the same page, but had a job to do.

Very quickly we agreed that there was little point in changing things, this year, that we were not required too.  This was felt to be a sensible way forward as we could then spend more time thinking about the implications.  So pay portability, retaining M1-6 and ignoring the new TLR3 and Lead Practitioner Role, for now, were the first decisions made.

On big pieces of paper tablecloth I drew a quick mind map with three questions for groups of staff to consider:

  • What do we value?
  • How will we measure these?
  • How will we differentiate these?

This led to really rich and fruitful discussions, an extra meeting, and over a period of about two hours a general consensus about the importance of:

  • Standards and children making progress;
  • Good quality teaching;
  • Professional development for teachers;
  • Being true to our ethos including the development of the whole child and
  • Differing expectations for teachers at the start of their careers, once they had gained three or four years’ experience and again once they had moved onto the upper pay range.

Common sense abounded and some interesting perspectives from staff who had spent time in industry or commerce about the expectation of an annual pay increase irrespective of performance were openly expressed.  The discussions, which I just sat around and listened to, gave me a clear framework of staff’s thinking.  I showed the groups some documents I had been given which broke the Teachers’ Standards down into their sub-clauses and then gave the expectation at five or six different stages of experience and ran to about six sides.  I hated them but wanted a perspective from others – their view was “liked the clarity” but they were concerned the process would end up as a simplistic tick box approach.

Here is my first attempt, subject still to consultation with staff at both schools, to give some clarity but avoid a total tick box approach:

Pay Policy Table 

The full Pay Policy based on Blackpool’s Model Policy is here.

Instead of a table stretching over six sides it sits on just over half a page and hopefully reflects the discussions with staff.  The key is whether it has sufficient clarity.  Sometimes less can be more as people can actually grasp the whole.  Also, in reality, there will always be an element of judgement and hopefully wisdom in decision making and there needs to be space for this.

The part that potentially is the “silver lining” in this PRP cloud is the expectation that teachers will increasingly be expected to share their good, best and next practice with others and take an increasing responsibility for the outcomes beyond their own classroom.  “Opening the Door on Our Craft Knowledge” by Alex Quigley (with a link to an article by John Tomsett around a discussion with an experienced and expert teacher) just emphasises the importance of building “Professional Capital” within and across our schools.

Hunting English Blog Response

Over years good teachers increase their “decisional capital” (the ability to make discretionary judgements) in their classrooms and interactions with students, parents and colleagues.  If we don’t find explicit ways to share this wisdom and develop it in colleagues then every summer those staff retiring from the profession or moving to new schools will deplete a school’s professional capital.  We cannot afford for this to happen and so through our new Pay Policy we have reinforced the need to develop practice, share it and work beyond our own classrooms as we gain professional experience and expertise.

More changes to Pay Policies you feel are inevitable but as leaders we need to ensure they actually address issues that need solving and are congruent with the values we hold.  I’ve blogged before about this in “PRP: We’re in the Wrong Jungle!” as it needs to be a national not individual school response to attracting and retaining the best people in education.


New Book: Liminal Leadership

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