The New Professionalism - Reimagining the Profession

January 23, 2014
Stephen Tierney

Post is reblogged from Stephen Tierney’s personal blog as Leading Learner

It won’t take long before merry hell breaks out in schools this term.  I’m not thinking of Year 9 after a wet, windy, miserable lunch time but rather the School Teachers’ Review Body’s Report (STRB) due out this week.  Following last year’s introduction of performance related pay this report may well end up to be an annual unsolicited and unhelpful wind up for teachers.

Michael Gove’s letter of the 17th April 2013 referred the following matters to the School Teachers’ Review Body to make recommendations on:

  • How to provide a simplified and flexible framework for ensuring school leaders’ pay is appropriate to the challenge of the post and their contribution to their school or schools;
  • How the current detailed provisions for allowances, other pay flexibilities and safeguarding could be reformed to allow a simpler and more flexible STPCD; and
  • How the framework for teachers’ non-pay conditions of service could be reformed to raise the status of the profession and support the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers, and raise standards of education for all children

The STRB Report is may well end up removing directed time, ditching the list of tasks teachers are no longer required to do, make planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) allowances more at the determination of individual schools and loosen up restrictions on leaders pay.  All of these are bound to be absolute winners in the staffroom.  Don’t be surprised in future years if the amount of sick pay, paid “special leave” and numbers of working days all increasingly come under the spotlight.  There seems to be an extreme kind of Business Capital being applied to schools.  Employ teachers cheap, train them quickly (I mean how difficult is this teaching lark?) if at all and let them move on to proper well paid jobs after a few years.

STPCD 2013

Changes in recent years have lacked a coherent sense of the whole, for example building performance related pay onto a pay structure produced to reward experience of years in teaching – they are different systems and don’t mix well.  Equally, expecting headteachers to make an annual performance pay decision with limited information and evidence isn’t a great idea by any stretch of the imagination.  Many of the changes seem to be built around a “Business Capital” model rather than a “Professional Capital” model which I’ve explained in the post, This is the Decade of Professional Capital,  based on the work of Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.

We’ve tried to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and some of the thinking in our new Pay Policy summarised in the table below, I think has much to commend it:

Pay Policy Table

We attempted to:

  • Differentiate expectations by splitting them into broad bands based upon a teacher’s experience
  • Allow decisions to be taken over two years based around a range of indicators, namely: outcomes for students, quality of teaching, contribution to ethos, implementation of policies and professional development.
  • Increase responsibilities for more experienced teachers, particularly those on the Upper Pay Range, for the outcomes beyond their own classroom and professional development of others.

Profits & Losses, Winners & Losers

Policy Exchange has just published a paper on the introduction of performance pay in England, Reversing the Widget.  The paper is very interesting and if you have the time to read it talks some sense though there are assertions and some elements that I simply don’t agree with .

Unfortunately, it went with the headline about _the best performing teachers _being paid £70,000 - £90,000 per annum with class room teachers able to reach this figure in a much quicker timescale than they can currently reach the top of the current upper pay range.  The headline, as opposed to the report, is not helpful.  Very few if any teachers will ever get paid £70,000+ per annum and it could only happen at the cost of other teachers being paid considerably less.  It is unhelpful, winners and losers, market thinking.  It’s not about a few Super Teachers receiving £70,000+.  It sounds like the now discredited “Super Heads Model” but this time applied to the classroom.

What we should be about is developing lots of great teachers, lots of great leaders and lots of great schools – the nation’s children deserve nothing less.  The alternative rationing of great teachers, leaders and schools isn’t acceptable.  Pay for teachers should be set nationally not locally.  Given the move towards a national formula funding the room for manoeuvre is limited and there will always be a move towards practically identical pay across schools within an area over time – you can’t afford to pay more and you can’t afford to pay less.

Building & Enhancing Human Capital

We need to reconsider pay & conditions for teachers based on an underlying model.  The Professional Capital model starts with getting the best possible people into teaching.  There is a need to “recruit from the top academic tiers, select for moral commitment & emotional intelligence and take pay off the table”.

With graduates coming out of universities with ever increasing debts a relatively modest increase in salary, in the early years of teaching, would have a significant impact on the education system’s ability to attract an increasing number of the best graduates.  We would thenbe able to pick and choose those which are most suited to teaching as happens in a number of countries with high performing school systems.  This would be helped if we all “talked up teaching” as the great profession it is.

Graduate Teachers

Graduate Teachers

The first three years in the profession for “Graduate Teachers” has to be the time of laying solid foundations in terms of the theory and practice of pedagogy.  They would be supported, challenged and mentored by “Chartered Teachers” (see later) within the school and expected to complete a Masters Degree.  This must give them enhanced knowledge about what works in the classroom as well as the skills required to research elements of practice, throughout their career, so we become a more evidence based profession.  The additional PPA time, not just in the first year but for the first three years, will give them the time to develop as teachers.  Their interactions with other colleagues will help build the social capital required to harness effectively the talents of these new teachers and model the behaviours expected of them as their careers develop.

Masters Teachers

There will be a salary bar after three years before progression to a Masters Teachers is permitted.  As well as requiring a Masters Degree a range of other indicators which could include the outcomes for students in classes taught, the quality of teaching and contribution to the wider life of the school and policy implementation would be needed.  These are too woolly as stated and a much more precise set of standards would need to be produced for fair judgements to be made.  Judgements would be made at a school level.

It is in essence performance related pay but not as we currently know it.  Moving through the salary bar to achieve Masters Teacher status must be a positive action not a default position.

Masters Teachers

Masters Teachers

The salary increase for a teacher would be approximately six and a half thousand pounds.  S/he can no put all their learning, from the first three years, into practice in the classroom for the benefit of young people.  Masters Teachers have developed the skills and increasingly the experiences required to develop, contribute and sustain deep professional learning communities, inter-school networks and enquiry projects all of which help build Professional Capital within and across the system.  A teacher remains as a Masters Teacher for three years before becoming eligible for “Expert Teacher” status.

Expert Teachers – A Revised Upper Pay Range

I’ve never been totally convinced about the Upper Pay Range.  The threshold process started as a paper chase and got better but never really had sufficient edge nationally, pretty much everyone seemed to pass which made it all a rather useless exercise.  Maybe it should have just operated like the main scale with automatic progression?

I’ve worked with heads who passed everyone unless a teacher actually approached them and told them they didn’t want to progress to the Upper Pay range – quite unbelievably this did happen.  The message about expectations was too variable from one school to the next and so it didn’t really serve as much of a threshold.  In many ways I can live with this, and have done without overdue concern, as teachers’ gained the financial rewards their work deserved but it was the absence of an enhanced job description and expectations for teachers on the Upper Pay Range that seemed a missed opportunity.

Determinations about progression to Expert Teacher (not sure about this term but couldn’t think of another one) would be determined at the school level through an appropriately rigorous but transparent process.

Expert Teachers

Expert Teachers

At Expert Teacher level teachers would be expected to take more collective responsibility across year groups, key stages and schools, become involved in peer review of practice and mentor & coach others, in addition to the responsibilities for Masters Teachers.  This is all about enhancing the Professional Capital, within schools and the system more widely, through increased Social and Decisional Capital.


In what are difficult financial times it would be unrealistic to propose a scheme that massively increases costs.  My calculations (which may well need checking) show the increased costs of the proposals in the first eleven years of a teacher’s career is £24,963

With the new Expert Teacher salary fixed in the middle of the Upper Pay Range the savings from the twelfth year of a teacher’s career is £1,327.

For a teacher who advanced along the current main scale and upper pay range and the proposed pay scale at the “expected rate” the scheme breaks even after thirty years.  That is there is no overall loss to a teacher in salary terms or increased costs to schools at thirty years teachers would be paid more earlier on in their career but this would even out at the thirty years of service point.  With teachers likely to be working for thirty five years or more in the future there is a potential cost saving that can be reinvested in the profession, rather than given to the Treasury, hence the opportunity to develop “Charter Teachers”.

Please note the figures are based on those that apply outside of London and I have assumed on-costs of twenty five percent.

Chartered Teachers

A teacher would be eligible for Chartered Teacher status after three years as an Expert Teacher.  Not quite by coincidence, they would be approaching the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice often associated with mastery.

Charter Teachers

Chartered Teachers

Chartered Teachers could be appointed at a local/regional or national level and expected to work in their host school and also beyond it.  The appointment would be for three years with the potential for reappointment based on evidence on impact on other teachers and schools practice.  Part Advanced Skills Teacher, part Subject Leader in Education part Research & Developer they would be responsible for the development of Graduate Teachers and their training and mentoring.  They would operate as tutors for Master Degrees and play a lead role in the examinations and assessment system.  Their responsibilities would include those associated with Masters and Expert Teachers, namely, working in deep professional learning communities, school networks, peer assisted reviews, mentoring & coaching and enquiry projects.  The additional 10% of time afforded them will enable them to carry out these advanced roles as well as committing to their own classes.  It would be interesting to debate whether these teachers could be “moved” to schools in greatest need for each three years of their designation, thereby, putting the very best teachers in the schools with greatest need.

I hope the proposed system would help to build in excellence.  By recruiting the best and most appropriate graduates, developing teachers and allowing the best to have an increased impact on the whole system we essentially build in quality and can push back the external accountability as it is just not needed.

This may actually be the dreams of a madman that look like more akin to a nightmare to some; I would be interested in your thoughts either way.  Don’t worry if you hate the ideas in this post, I don’t think it will be appearing in the School Teachers’ Pay & Conditions Document any time soon.

The pay summary element, in full, of the proposals above is in this table:

Pay Proposals - Full

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In September 2013, Stephen became the Executive Headteacher of a Blackpool federation. He is one of SSAT’s   long standing advocates and his contribution to the early System Redesign and Four Deeps research is valued highly.