Schools could be allowed to offer teachers bonuses and the chance to drop down pay scales as part of the latest government effort to ensure the “best” teachers are rewarded.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan has asked the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the body tasked with reviewing teachers’ pay for next year, to consider granting schools more flexibility to recognise good performance.
She has suggested allowing schools to pay teachers “non-consolidated payments” – one-off lump sums on top of their salary.
Ms Morgan has also floated the possibility of making it easier for schools to let teachers move down to lower pay scales, and provide a salary advance to cover rent deposits.
The disclosures come amid growing concerns over teacher recruitment, with high numbers of teachers leaving to move abroad and headteachers increasingly struggling to fill vacant posts.
A spokesperson for Nicky Morgan told Schools Week: “We want to make sure the review body is looking at how, within the fiscal context, we can make teaching as attractive as possible and keep the best teachers by encouraging and rewarding them.”
Ms Morgan wrote to Patricia Rice, chair of the STRB, on Wednesday.
The government’s policy for all public sector pay in the 2016-17 financial year is for an average award of 1 per cent, similar to this year. Ms Morgan said the body’s proposals for teacher pay should reflect the policy, adding: “There remains a strong case for continued pay restraint in the public sector.”
But she has asked the body to recommend what adjustments could be made to the salary ranges for teachers within the average 1 per cent pay award, urging Ms Rice to “consider any additional flexibilities that could be introduced to support schools”.
She specifically asked the body to make a recommendation on how the pay and conditions framework could be adjusted to allow schools to recognise performance.
One of the proposals includes making it easier for teachers to drop down from the upper to the main pay scale.
It follows concerns raised by heads that they have staff who want to give up additional responsibilities but are prevented doing so by rules in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document.
The advance salary scheme for deposits on a privately rented home would be repaid through payroll over 12 months and follows the launch last October of a similar scheme by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
Schools Week revealed earlier this year that newly qualified teachers faced accommodation costs above the 40 per cent affordable threshold in London and the south east.
John Tomsett, one of the founders of the Headteachers’ Roundtable, welcomed the proposals but raised concerns about the ability of schools to offer bonuses.
“Considering I’ve got to make significant cuts to the budget – where am I supposed to find these lump sums from?”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “Teachers and school leaders have taken successive pay cuts for a number of years now and it is vitally important that steps are taken to redress this.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said heads had been given “much greater flexibility to set staff pay and reward their best teachers with a pay rise”.