What are the rules on starting pay?
The school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD) (England) provides two pay ranges for classroom teachers, the main pay range (MPR) and upper pay range (UPR). Governing bodies can determine whether the school uses a fixed pay scale and what point any newly appointed teacher will start on. This means that every teacher needs to discuss starting pay whenever they apply for a new job. In Wales, the Government has reintroduced mandatory pay scales for teachers.
Starting pay on appointment
If you are offered a post at a pay rate which does not reflect your previous teaching service, you may need to bargain for an improved pay offer. Once you have been appointed to a post, you should discuss pay policy issues with your workplace rep with a view to bringing the school’s pay policy into line with the NEU pay model policy and checklist.
Most ECTs are placed on the first point of the school’s pay scale for teachers on the MPR. Governing bodies can place teachers with relevant experience outside teaching on a higher point. This should be covered in the school pay policy. The NEU believes that governing bodies should always take such experience into account.
The ‘portability’ of pay entitlements has been abolished, so schools can offer to pay teachers at any pay point where they are moving schools or returning to teaching. The NEU seeks a clear commitment from all schools to the principle of pay portability in principle and its application in practice.
The governing body can agree to maintain your previous pay rate and to give you extra points for additional experience during a break in service. This should be covered in the school pay policy.
Specific provisions relating to teachers previously paid as leadership group teachers or employed in other related areas such as sixth form colleges or as Soulbury officers allow schools the discretion to pay them on the UPR not the MPR.
The governing body must have a written school pay policy setting out the pay scales for teachers and the criteria for determining starting pay for appointments and pay progression. This may often be based on a local authority or academy chain model policy. In every case you should find out from the school itself whether it has agreed to maintain pay portability for teachers’ previous pay entitlements and what its policy is on awarding extra points for experience outside teaching.
If you are a re-entrant, work out what pay you should receive if your previous entitlement was maintained. Whether you are an ECT or a re-entrant, work out what you could also ask for based on relevant non-teaching experience. Be clear in your mind what you are prepared to accept.
The best time is after the governors have made you an offer of the job. Make it clear that you want to work at the school but you would like to discuss pay. Your experience should be listed on your application form. Give them an indication of what you are looking for.
Confirm this when the school or local authority writes to you confirming the offer of the job. Ensuring clarity over starting pay in writing is essential.
What happens if the school says that starting pay is to be determined by the local authority or academy trust?
This can be quite common for ECTs. In this case, you should say that you accept the post subject to confirmation of starting pay. If you are moving post, you should ask for immediate confirmation that you will be paid at least at your existing pay point, so that this is confirmed before you resign your existing job.
You should think carefully about accepting a job at a school which does not allow pay portability as it may be similarly reluctant about allowing annual pay progression.
If you experience problems in relation to your salary or its payment and have not been able to resolve it yourself, speak to the NEU school rep in the first instance. You can also formally appeal.