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The most common queries NEU members have on pay for leadership teachers in schools and academies.

Who takes decisions on leadership pay?

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) sets out provisions on how to decide the appropriate level of pay, within overall upper and lower limits, but allows governing bodies substantial discretion on setting individuals’ pay ranges, deciding whether or not to include fixed progression points and deciding the criteria and standards for pay progression. 

In order to maintain uniformity across schools, the NEU wants all governing bodies to continue to use the leadership pay structure set out in the STPCD prior to 2015 i.e. an overall 43 point pay spine on which all leadership teachers are paid; a seven point individual pay range for the head teacher; and a five point individual pay range for deputy and assistant head teachers.  The NEU and other teacher unions have jointly published recommended values for the 43 point pay spine for 2018-19 reflecting the 1.5% increase to the leadership pay range in September 2018.

How big should a leadership group be?

School leadership groups should not be excessively large.  The DfE has in the past advised that it should be exceptional to have leadership groups of more than seven in large secondary schools and more than three in primary schools.  Posts should not be advertised as leadership posts simply to remove the protection of classroom teachers’ working time limits.

How should governors determine individual leadership pay ranges?

DfE advice to be read alongside the STPCD sets out a three-stage approach to determining leadership pay.  The three stages are:

  • Stage 1 – Defining the role and determining the head teacher group
  • Stage 2 – Setting the indicative pay range
  • Stage 3 – Deciding the starting salary and individual pay range

The STPCD sets out an overall leadership pay range which puts an upper and lower limit on pay for all leadership teachers, and a further pay range for each of the eight school groups which puts an upper and lower limit on pay for head teachers of schools in that group. The individual pay ranges for head teachers, deputy and assistant head teachers may be located anywhere within those overall limits, subject to certain caveats - see below.

When setting individual pay ranges, the governing body should take into account “all of the permanent responsibilities of the role, any challenges specific to the role and all other relevant considerations”.  The governing body should also allow appropriate scope within the individual pay range for performance based pay progression.

The governing body is required to follow the above provisions when determining the pay range for new appointees or for existing post holders whose responsibilities have changed significantly.  The Governing Body is not required to re-assess the pay of other leadership teachers, even when it has used the above provisions to determine the pay of another teacher.   

The NEU does not support pay ranges which are longer than our recommended ranges or which do not include incremental points and does not support extending pay ranges simply because teachers have reached the top of the range and are continuing to perform well in the post.

What about incremental points within the individual pay range?

The governing body can determine whether there are any specified incremental points within the individual pay range and, if so, the number and value of those points.  Pay progression within the pay range might therefore be made by moving to a higher specified pay point, or by moving to a higher pay level within the range with the value of that increase being determined by the governing body on each occasion.

Can the head teacher’s pay range exceed the maximum for that school group?

Governing bodies can decide to set the head teacher's pay range up to 25 per cent above the maximum of the pay range for that school group and, in exceptional circumstances and where supported by a business case, beyond that figure.

The NEU has only supported such payments when they are made for legitimate purposes in defined and limited circumstances. Governing bodies should follow the statutory requirements and be cautious in determining that payments are justified and are of appropriate value.  We continue to call for clearer advice to governing bodies on this. 

Can governing bodies make additional payments to leadership teachers in addition to their pay on their individual pay range?

Section 2 (paragraph 10) of the STPCD permits additional payments to be made to head teachers but only for “clearly temporary [additional] responsibilities or duties” not already taken into account in setting the individual pay range.  These payments are limited to 25 per cent of pay other than in "wholly exceptional circumstances" (excluding payments for residential duties or for relocation purposes).

The NEU has only supported such payments when they are made for legitimate purposes in defined and limited circumstances. Governing bodies should follow the statutory requirements and be cautious in determining that payments are justified and are of appropriate value.  We continue to call for clearer advice to governing bodies on this. 

What about pay differentials between leadership posts and other teaching posts?

Governing bodies determine what pay differentials should exist between different leadership posts and between leadership posts and classroom teacher posts. Previous provisions which prohibited any overlap between pay ranges for head teachers and other leadership teachers and between pay ranges for leadership teachers and the “highest paid classroom teacher” have been removed. The pay ranges of deputy and assistant head teachers should however, only overlap the pay range of the head teacher in "exceptional circumstances.”

How does pay progression work for leadership group teachers?

The governing body should set out in the school pay policy the precise criteria and standards that will be used to determine decisions on pay progression for leadership teachers.  The STPCD sets out an expectation that “sustained high quality of performance … should give the individual an expectation of progression”.  In taking pay decisions, the governing body is required to “have regard” to the appraisal reviewer’s pay recommendation (for the head teacher, this recommendation is made by the governors responsible for her/his performance review) and the provisions of the STPCD and the school pay policy.  As with other teachers, the governing body is statutorily required to carry out an annual pay assessment and there is no requirement to apply for pay progression.

What standards are required for pay progression?

The NEU model pay policy provides that appraisal reviews should be deemed to be successful unless significant concerns about standards of performance have been raised in writing with the teacher during the annual appraisal cycle and have not been sufficiently addressed through support provided by the school by the conclusion of that process.

The NEU’s view is that pay progression for leadership teachers should therefore be agreed where teachers have met or made significant progress towards meeting their objectives - it is not necessary for all performance targets to be met in full.  Decisions should be subject to a whole school approach to pay policy.

Can leadership teachers receive pay increases for other reasons?

They might receive pay increases as a result of taking on additional responsibilities or an increase in the size of the school, but this should happen through the establishment of a new higher pay range and should be distinguished from the annual assessment for pay progression within the pay range.

What about acting allowances?

The STPCD continues to permit acting allowances to deputy or assistant head teachers who act in the role of head teacher or deputy head teacher on a temporary basis. 

No pressure, direct or indirect, should be placed on assistant head teachers to act up since the decision to agree to act up is voluntary on their part.

It should be noted that deputy head teachers are, unlike assistant head teachers, required by their statutory professional duties to undertake on a day to day basis the head teacher’s professional duties when the head is absent from the school.

Where deputy head teachers or assistant head teachers are required to act as head teachers or deputy head teachers for a period in excess of four weeks, they should receive allowances in order that their pay is equal to that of the substantive post holder.

Payment of acting allowances should be backdated to the day they assumed these duties. 

Are there other allowances for which leadership teachers might be eligible?

Leadership teachers may be paid two other kinds of allowance:

  • recruitment / retention incentives; and
  • additional payments for CPD undertaken outside the school day, activities relating to initial teacher training, participation in out-of-school hours learning activity, and additional responsibilities relating to head teachers' involvement in supporting other schools.

The STPCD provides that recruitment / retention payments may only be made to head teachers for reimbursement of housing or relocation costs, since other recruitment / retention considerations should be reflected in the individual pay range.  The same position should apply to pay for deputy and assistant head teachers.

Payments for work supporting other schools may only be made to head teachers for clearly temporary responsibilities.  Any permanent responsibilities of this kind should be taken into account when setting the individual pay range. 

Again the same position should apply to pay for deputy and assistant head teachers. 

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