What is the Upper Pay Range (UPR)?
The Upper Pay Range is a pay range offering significantly higher pay than the main pay range. In order to be paid on the upper pay range, teachers must have been assessed by their employer as meeting the criteria required to be paid on the UPR. Accessing the UPR is often referred to as ‘crossing the threshold’.
Who can apply to cross the threshold?
Any qualified teacher is eligible to be considered for progression on to the UPR. You do not have to be at the top of the main pay range to apply, although you will need to meet the standards required to progress.
What are the criteria for crossing the threshold?
The criteria you must meet before moving onto the UPR are:
- that you are highly competent in all elements of the relevant standards; and
- that your achievements and contribution to the school are substantial and sustained.
What are the relevant standards?
For teachers in England it will usually be the Teachers’ Standards and for teachers in Wales it will usually be the Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership. Both sets of standards are published in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (see links at the end of this guidance). The relevant standards will be stipulated in the school’s pay policy. Some teachers (ie those whose qualification is in post-16 teaching) may be assessed by other standards in accordance with the school’s pay policy.
What does ‘substantial and sustained’ mean?
There is no strict definition of substantial and sustained in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document. The Department for Education model pay policy makes no firm recommendation and advises schools to insert an ‘agreed definition’ into their policy. You should check your school’s pay policy as most policies have defined substantial and sustained.
The NEU believes that the appraisal review statement at the end of the cycle should be the only source of evidence you require to support pay progression. The policy should enable you to submit additional evidence if you choose but you should not be requested or directed to submit additional evidence or penalised if you choose not to do so. You should not be required to maintain a portfolio of evidence to support your application.
The NEU also believes that where teachers who apply to move to the UPR the assessment should have regard to, at most, the two most recent appraisal reviews. Those 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.
When should I apply to move on to the UPR?
Your school’s pay policy will include the process for applying to cross the threshold. The pay policy may include deadlines during the year by which you must make known your wish to be considered to progress and the criteria which will be used to make any determination. The application process should normally be aligned to the performance appraisal cycle.
What should be included in the threshold application?
When you make your application, you will need to include the necessary information including your appraisal reviews. The head teacher is required to refer to this information, determining whether it is accurate and indicative of your overall performance against the post-threshold standards. Make a copy of your application and associated information before handing it to your head teacher or line manager. Keep a record of the evidence to which you have referred. Teachers should be treated fairly, with account taken of different working patterns for example.
Although applications should be ‘confidential’, head teachers are permitted to discuss all or part of your application with leadership group members or your manager. You can therefore ask one of the above for guidance and support on making your application. Some schools have produced internal guidelines for applicants.
I have just started at a new school - can I still apply?
There is nothing to stop you applying to be assessed to move to the UPR in accordance with your new school’s pay policy. However, the criteria for progressing clearly state that you must have made a substantial and sustained contribution to your current school. It may, therefore, be more difficult to be successful until you have shown this. Your new school’s pay policy should give you details.
I work at more than one school. How will this affect crossing the threshold?
If you are employed to teach at two or more schools you may make a separate application at each school. Separate decisions are made by each school and the decision of one school cannot be binding on any other school. It is possible for you to be paid on the UPR at one school and on the MPR at another.
I have just returned from maternity/paternity/adoption leave. Can I cross the threshold?
Periods of absence on maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave, which are statutory or contractual, cannot preclude you from crossing the threshold. Your school’s pay policy will outline how periods of absence due to maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave will be dealt with. Schools must not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone because of a protected characteristic and this includes pregnancy and maternity leave.
I have recently returned from long-term sick leave. Can I still be assessed to cross the threshold?
Absences as a result of injury or sickness should not preclude you from applying to cross the threshold. Your school’s pay policy should outline how absences will be dealt with in the application process.
I work part time and my headteacher has told me I cannot apply to cross the threshold. Is that correct?
No, this is not correct. Part time teachers are subject to appraisal just as those who work full time and therefore can provide the required evidence. DfE advice emphasises that schools must not treat part time teachers less favourably.
I have been on the leadership range for several years and I will be giving up my post of responsibility. Do I still need to apply in order to be paid on the upper pay range?
If you remain at the same school then you must be paid on the UPR if you step down. If you change schools, then the new school has the discretion to pay you on the UPR, or you will need to apply in accordance with the school’s pay policy.
I have been on the leadership range for several years and previously I was a classroom teacher on the UPR. If I step down from my leadership post, where should I be on the UPR?
If you remain at the same school, the lowest point you could be placed on the UPR is the point you were on when you joined the leadership group at that school. If you change schools, then the school has the discretion to pay you on the UPR. If it does not, you will need to apply in accordance with the school’s pay policy.
I have requested assessment to cross the threshold. When can I expect to hear back from my headteacher?
Unfortunately, there is no timescale that must be adhered to when assessing an application, although your school’s pay policy may cover this. If you are concerned about the length of time it is taking, please contact your NEU school representative in the first instance. If there is no representative in your workplace, you should contact the relevant region.
Is my headteacher required to provide feedback and, if so, when should this take place?
Once your application has been assessed and you have been informed of the decision, you should be informed in writing of the outcome. If you have been unsuccessful, you should also receive oral feedback from your headteacher or LA manager on each standard and the reasons for the outcome of your application. You should receive advice on aspects of performance that would benefit from further development.
I have been unsuccessful in my application. When can I be reassessed?
Teachers can only be assessed once in an academic year at each school they work in. You must wait until the beginning of the following academic year before requesting a further assessment.
Can I appeal?
Unsuccessful applicants may appeal against a failed application through the school’s pay procedure. Information about making an appeal should be available in your school’s pay policy.
Teachers have the right to raise formal appeals against pay determinations if, for example, they believe that the person or committee by whom the decision was made:
- incorrectly applied the school’s pay policy
- incorrectly applied any provision of the STPCD
- failed to have proper regard to statutory guidance
- failed to take proper account of relevant evidence
- took account of irrelevant or inaccurate evidence
- was biased or,
- unlawfully discriminated against the teacher
When can I progress further on the UPR?
Teachers on the Upper Pay Range (UPR) can and therefore should be considered for progression annually. Check your school's pay policy for details on this issue.
Where should I go for further advice and support?
If further advice is needed, contact your NEU workplace rep in the first instance. If there is no NEU rep in your workplace, or the peripatetic nature of your employment makes contact with a workplace rep difficult, contact the NEU AdviceLine, or the NEU Wales office instead.
Where should I go for further advice and support?
Further NEU guidance on school teachers’ pay and pay advice for teachers working in Sixth Form Colleges can be found here.
See also advice for teachers employed as Soulbury Officers.
See the NEU pay toolkit - including the Model Pay Policy and Pay Policy Checklist.