Press release

Reforming teachers’ pay: government sets out case

Details on the case put by Michael Gove for reform of teachers' pay.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Education Secretary Michael Gove has today submitted evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) - the independent body which makes recommendations on teachers’ pay reforms.

He has set out a strong case for reform, to free up the current system of teachers’ pay to ensure that teaching is a rewarding and attractive career.

The evidence highlights that in order to drive up the quality of teaching and standards in schools, we need arrangements for teachers’ pay which:

  • reward good performance and attract the highest performing graduates and professionals into the profession;
  • give schools as much freedom as possible to spend their money as they see fit to meet their pupils’ needs;
  • ensure the best teachers are incentivised to work in the most challenging schools; and
  • provide the best value for money for the taxpayer.

Earlier this month, a major survey of teachers found widespread support for a link between teachers’ pay and their performance, with three-quarters of teachers believing that annual salary increases should be linked to performance.

Evidence shows that improving the quality of teaching is essential to driving up standards in schools. Pupils taught by good teachers score nearly half a GCSE point more per subject than pupils taught by poor teachers. The impact is even more significant for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to the Sutton Trust. For poor pupils, the difference between a very good teacher and a bad teacher may be a whole year’s education.

The Government’s initial teaching training (ITT) strategy - Training our next generation of outstanding teachers - published last year set out reforms to attract the best graduates into the profession. However, the current teachers’ pay system is too rigid, complex and difficult to navigate. It does not support schools in recruiting and retaining the best into the profession.

Under the current system:

  • automatic pay progression means there is a poor link between a teacher’s performance and reward;
  • national pay scales mean schools in some parts of the country struggle to recruit and retain good teachers, while others may be paying salaries which are significantly above local professional pay levels; and
  • a number of other barriers prevent schools from responding to local labour market conditions.

In February this year, the Secretary of State commissioned the STRB to consider how reforms could be made to address this, along with teacher shortages in specific subjects and in certain areas of the country.

As a first stage in the process, the STRB has called for evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, including the Government and teacher and head teacher unions.

The Government sets out a number of possible options for reform for the STRB, as the experts, to consider. These include:

  • varying level of prescription in national pay arrangements;
  • setting a minimum and or maximum pay level; and
  • exploring the possibility of having local pay zones.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Ensuring there are enough teachers, and that those teachers are of the highest quality, is critical to driving up standards in our schools.

Reform of the current pay system for teachers is fundamental to driving up teacher quality. The current pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate. It does not support schools to recruit and retain the high quality teachers or leaders they need to address specific shortages and benefit their pupils.

I look forward to the STRB’s recommendations in due course.

Following careful consideration of all the evidence submitted, the STRB will make recommendations for reform to the Secretary of State in the autumn. He will then, after considering the recommendations and having listened carefully to the profession’s view, ask the STRB to produce more detailed recommendations for implementation of the preferred options for reform. It is expected that the accepted recommendations will start to be implemented from September 2013.


Notes for editors

  1. The Department for Education’s evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) can be found on the pay and pensions section of the Department for Education’s website.

  2. On 21 February 2012, the Secretary of State for Education asked the STRB to review current provisions for teachers’ pay with a view to raising the status of the profession and contributing to improving the standard of teaching in our schools. In particular the Secretary of State asked the STRB to: * make recommendations for reducing rigidity within the pay system so that it best supports the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers in all schools; * consider how teachers’ pay could be better linked to performance and whether there are existing barriers to this within the current system; and * put forward recommendations on how to make teachers’ pay more market-facing, following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s letter to pay review bodies of 7 December. A copy of the remit letter can be found on our website.

  3. The NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus February 2012 survey carried out for The Sutton Trust on performance management and published in May 2012 can be found on the Sutton Trust website.

  4. University of Bristol research on the impact of the quality of teachers on attainment, Do teachers matter? Measuring the variation in teacher effectiveness in England, can be found on the University of Bristol’s website.

  5. Sutton Trust research on teaching and its impact on pupil performance, Improving the impact of teachers on pupil achievement in the UK - interim findings, September 2011 can be found on the Sutton Trust’s website.

  6. The Government’s initial teaching training (ITT) strategy - Training our next generation of outstanding teachers - published last year can be found on our website. It sets out a series of reforms to recruit the very best into teaching and a greater role for schools in training. This includes: * encouraging more primary specialist teachers to be trained; * offering graduates with first-class degrees in physics, chemistry, maths and modern foreign languages significantly better financial incentives to train as teachers; * requiring all trainees to have high standards of mathematics and English by requiring trainees to pass a tougher literacy and numeracy tests before they start training; * allowing and encouraging schools to lead their own high-quality initial teacher training; and * giving schools a stronger influence over the content of ITT training as well as the recruitment and selection of trainees.

DfE enquiries

Central newsdesk - for journalists 020 7783 8300

General enquiries - for members of the public 0370 000 2288

Published 16 May 2012