What is pay progression?
Pay progression for teachers in maintained schools in England is linked to their performance. The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has given schools more flexibility in how they determine teachers’ pay – although the vast majority continue to operate according to national pay scales. All pay progression is based on performance and the outcomes of appraisal.
Progression for teachers in Wales is no longer based on the outcome of their appraisal. From 1 September 2021, the Welsh Government abolished performance-related pay in favour of experience-based pay progression and reintroducing national statutory pay scales.
Who is eligible to progress?
All teachers are eligible to progress except:
- teachers at the top of the main pay range who have not expressed a wish to ‘cross the threshold’
- teachers at the top of the upper pay range
- teachers at the top of their leadership group pay range
- unqualified teachers at the top of the unqualified teacher pay range
- leading practitioners at the top of their range.
Who makes the decision as to whether or not I progress?
As part of your performance appraisal review meeting your appraiser must make a recommendation on your pay progression. Usually, the decision will have to be approved by the head teacher and governing body. The NEU’s view is that a decision to progress made by your appraiser should not be overturned by the head teacher or governing body without good reason.
The decision should be based on the outcome of your performance appraisal review, and there is no requirement for you to provide additional evidence. You should check your school’s pay policy to see the criteria and evidence your school expects you to fulfil for progression. When you agreed your objectives you should also have discussed how your performance against these objectives would be measured. The
NEU does not expect teachers to be required to provide a portfolio of evidence to show they have met their objectives. You should agree with your appraiser how your performance will be managed and what, if any, evidence you need to collect. You may wish to take note of examples showing how you met the aspects of your objectives, which may be useful if you do not receive the pay recommendation you think you deserve.
The school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD) provides clearly that “continued good performance… should give [a teacher] an expectation of progression”. Teachers who do not fully meet objectives should not automatically be denied progression.
Objectives must be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely - and fit for purpose. The DfE advice advocates “targets and objectives that enable teachers to demonstrate performance, rather than simply results”. You should challenge any objectives you think are unachievable or inappropriate at the outset and, if they are imposed, record your objections in writing.
Your school must have a pay policy that details how pay progression will operate in your school. If your school has a pay scale, ideally the one recommended by the NEU, you should progress to the next point on the pay scale. If your performance has been deemed exceptional you may progress two points, provided this has been incorporated into your school’s pay policy. If your school does not have a pay scale it is likely that all teachers will be paid on a spot salary determined by the governors/head teacher.
As long as you remain at the same school, there is no mechanism by which you can be moved down the pay scale.
It is possible for appraisers to recommend you do not progress on the pay scale and remain on your current point. Where this is the case the reasons for making the decision must be fully explained to you. If you disagree with the decision, you should be able to lodge an appeal.
If you are denied progression, part of the discussion with your appraiser must include details of what you need to do to achieve progression next year. Agreement should be reached on what support you need and this should be provided.
Any increase to your pay following pay progression should be backdated to 1 September.
If you do not agree with your appraiser’s decision not to award you progression, or you believe the amount of progression recommended is insufficient, you should consider lodging an appeal. You should check with the school’s pay policy to ensure your appeal is made within the time limits - you usually have ten working days to lodge an appeal.
You may wish to discuss your decision to appeal with your NEU rep in the first instance (if you do not have a school rep, contact the relevant region.) If your appraiser is not your line manager, you may also wish to discuss your appeal with your line manager.
Your appraiser should have given you reasons why they did not recommend you for progression, and you should consider carefully whether you have the evidence available to show that these reasons are not sufficient and that their decision is not correct.
You may be required to provide additional evidence to support your appeal, although it should not be too onerous a task for you to collect this information.
Denying progression on this basis is clearly unfair and, in certain circumstances, can be unlawful discrimination.
If you moved post during, or at the end of, the previous year, previous statutory guidance said that head teachers should consult with the previous head. The STPCD no longer includes that advice, but its principles remain valid.
Teachers who, for reasons of maternity or other leave, miss significant periods should have their targets reassessed to make them more realistic and achievable, while still rigorous, bringing them in line with the school’s appraisal cycle.
The DfE advice confirms that such teachers are entitled to consideration for pay progression in the same way as other teachers. Governing bodies should take decisions by reference to available information such as from the most recent appraisal review or from any part of the period when the teacher was present.
If you go on maternity leave at the end of the summer term, we advise you to ask for a review to be undertaken before you leave. Similarly, if you return to work in the summer term you should ask for interim targets to be set for you to meet by the end of October.
All teachers should get the cost-of-living increase set out in the STPCD, separately from and additional to any pay progression for which the teacher is eligible. We have detailed pay advice.
If you are in England, the STPCD includes advisory pay points in relation to the Main, Upper and Unqualified Teacher pay ranges.
Although the advisory points are not mandatory, the NEU is urging employers to follow the STRB’s recommendation.