The introduction of performance-related pay for teachers may have “disproportionately disadvantaged” women, the government has said.
The Department for Education found that progression rates declined for all teachers after reforms in 2014 moved away from automatic pay progression to performance-related decisions.
However, new analysis found that the decline in progression rates was “more pronounced” for part-time teachers, most of whom are women.
Performance-related pay allows schools to give rises to staff based on targets or benchmarks. It was introduced as part of reforms that replaced compulsory pay points and mandatory threshold assessments.
All schools are supposed to consider performance when setting pay, but some have rejected the practice. By 2015, 99 per cent of LA-maintained schools and 62 per cent of academies had implemented the reforms.
The government claims the reforms give schools more flexibility. Analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research in 2017 found no evidence to suggest particular groups had been disadvantaged, but said its findings were not conclusive.
But new analysis in the government’s evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body found that although part-time teachers were less likely to progress from the main to upper pay scale before the reforms, the trend was now “most pronounced at primary”.
‘Consign PRP to the history books’
Given that women make up a larger proportion of the primary school workforce than men and are four times more likely to work part time the analysis warned that the “negative impact on the progression of part-time workers could have served to disproportionately disadvantage female teachers”.
Louise Hatswell, a conditions of employment specialist at ASCL, said the government “must recognise how serious this issue is and consign performance-related pay progression for teachers to the history books”.
Women teachers are already at a pay disadvantage across England. The DfE found the gender pay gap for women averaged around 4 per cent between 2010 and 2020.
Polling by Teacher Tapp found 85 per cent of classroom teachers and 68 per cent of headteachers opposed performance-related pay.
A Schools Week investigation in 2019 found teachers had given up running extra-curricular activities and left the profession over the practice. Wales scrapped performance-related pay in 2020.
Ian Hartwright, senior policy advisor at the school leaders’ union NAHT, said the DfE’s “much trumpeted pay ‘flexibilities’ have failed”.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, called on the government to “create a pay structure without PRP and that does not enable discrimination against part-time teachers and women who take maternity leave”.