If I were writing a pay policy from scratch I would…

I am of the opinion that as different schools have different philosophies and ethoi there is not going to be one system that is best. It is more likely that there will be a system or set of general ideas that will result in systems that are best for the individual school.

If I were setting up a system of paying teachers from scratch the first thing I would do is be clear about the principles and ethos of the school.

Let’s say that a hypothetical school has the following principles:

  1. All pupils have the right to feel safe.
  2. All pupils have the right to learn in a supportive environment.
  3. This school strives to ensure all pupils achieve the best results possible in the subjects that will advantage them most in the future.
  4. This school strives to give pupils opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities beyond what they study as part of the curriculum.
  5. All staff have the right to feel safe.
  6. All staff have the right to work in a supportive environment.
  7. The school strives to prepare pupils well for entering the world as adults by ensuring they have the necessary social skills as well as academic knowledge to do so successfully.

Once the principles are established I would then consider how to accomplish this.

  • Teachers will use the behaviour policy to challenge, record and report to the relevant people all instances of fighting and/or bullying immediately.
  • Teachers will use the behaviour policy to challenge behaviour that is detrimental to learning.
  • Senior and Middle Leaders will support their colleagues in the first instance with all behaviour issues referred to them. Should there be an issue with how a colleague is dealing with behaviour this will be discussed privately at an appropriate time.
  • Teachers are to deliver well planned and differentiated lessons that support and challenge all pupils to achieve the best grade they are capable of.
  • Teachers, having used a range of different types of assessment, know their pupils and know how to move them forward.
  • Middle and Senior Leaders are to take the lead in creating and maintaining an environment conducive to teaching and learning.
  • Middle and Senior Leaders will keep themselves informed of what is best practice in all areas relevant to their responsibilities and disseminate this best practice to all the relevant staff.
  • Middle and Senior Leaders will be aware of the training needs within their teams and ensure that staff have opportunities to improve their practice.
  • The school will give pupils opportunities to expand their horizons beyond the local community and beyond the curriculum.

Having established those things I would then establish what I expected (as a minimum) from teachers, middle leaders and senior leaders in order for the school to be able to achieve. That list is too long to go through but it would have to include results.


I would use historical data (if available) to establish reasonable expectations of pupil progress for each class and for each pupil. If there was no historical data available then I would use borough averages or data from a similar school. If I’m teaching a set 4 Year 7 class then using what progress set 4 in Year 7 typically makes in my school or similar schools to generate a target is going to generate more realistic targets than a blanket “x” levels of progress or FFT. I would also have teachers teaching the same class for an entire Key stage as much as possible.

I would then compare the average progress of the class to the average progress of similar classes historically and rather than giving extra pay for results I would give teachers an extra day off at the end of the winter or summer term for every 10% their class does better than the historical average.

The possible problem with this is grade inflation when teachers mark the work of their own pupils. I think that teachers keeping their classes wherever possible would address this as if pupils appear to have made more progress than they have then eventually that teacher will end up looking like their class has made no progress and then they will have some explaining to do. If a class changes teacher then the pupils should have a test in the first half term. If the results broadly match the assessment done at the end of the previous year then that’s fine. If not then there may be an issue.

I would then pick my top 5 things beyond their job description that I would want colleagues to do for each tier of management and/or type of job in the school. I would pay staff to do them provided their teaching did not suffer as a result.

I would split staff into broad categories like:

  • Teachers
  • HoD/HoF
  • Teaching assistants
  • Support staff
  • HoY
  • SLT

The different categories might have different top 5s and some people would be able to choose from more than one category.

These things might include providing opportunities for extra-curricular activities that pupils might not otherwise get the opportunity to do.

It would also include taking on additional responsibility for something that the school feels is of significant value or developing knowledge/skills that are currently lacking within the school and helping to develop those areas in colleagues.

Personally I would also include sharing good practice, mentoring or coaching amongst my top 5 things for good, experienced staff provided the mentoring, coaching or sharing good practice provided notable results and did not detract from their main job.

For the most part the lists would contain things that the school believes have a direct impact on learning and/or results.

What would be absolutely vital is that everyone be clear about what is necessary to get the money and that the measure of whether the criteria have been met or not is as objective as possible.


The other thing I would do is have three strands of leadership. Curriculum, Pastoral and Teaching.

Curriculum Middle Leaders would be responsible for:

  1. Curriculum mapping- ensuring that there is a planned progression pathway for each pupil that gives them the opportunity to go from their starting point to their target grade.
  2. Making sure schemes of work are in place and that they follow the curriculum map.
  3. Making sure the schemes of work are followed
  4. Most of the admin bollocks that HoDs currently do (with the exception of the admin bollocks that will be taken over by Teaching Leaders)

Pastoral Middle leaders would be responsible for:

  1. Monitoring the big picture of academic progress within their year group.
  2. Monitoring the safety and well-being of their year group.
  3. Being a point of contact for pupils, parents and staff with issues that it’s appropriate a HoY deal with.
  4. Monitoring the work of form tutors with respect to their tutor groups.
  5. Putting interventions in place where needed as a result of the 4 points above.
  6. Listening to an endless whinge-athon about your errant year group from people who want you to solve their problems or do their job for them (including teachers, parents and SLT in my experience)
  7. The vast majority of the admin bollocks HoYs currently do

Teaching Middle Leaders would be responsible for:

  1. Monitoring the quality of teaching, marking and planning within their curriculum area.
  2. Training staff in those areas.
  3. Coaching/mentoring staff
  4. Thinking about how the schemes of work would be best delivered with respect to resources, teaching style etc.
  5. Disseminating best practice with respect to teaching and learning.
  6. Team teaching with staff and doing demonstration lessons where appropriate.
  7. The admin bollocks that a HoD currently does that specifically relates to how lessons are taught rather than what is taught/tested and when.

SLT in each area would then oversee the middle leaders working within that area.

I think this system is compatible with having M1-6 but I would probably scrap the upper pay spine as it’s not really compatible with the Teaching Leaders and the top 5 lists which I think would be better.

Obviously some decisions require more than one strand working together and there would probably need to be a policy regarding who decides what happens if the leaders from the different strands cannot come to an agreement on an issue.

I think system would reduce the number of people doing leadership/management jobs that simply are not suited to or interested in leadership or management. It would also allow people who just want to teach or focus on teaching to do so but still have the opportunity to earn more. They could either take things on from their top 5 list or become a teaching leader.

There are inevitably going to be flaws in this system as there are in any system. I’m not claiming that this system would be perfect but I think it would definitely be better than what we have.


3 thoughts on “If I were writing a pay policy from scratch I would…

  1. whatonomy

    Extremely well thought through. From cynical teacher to cynical administrator? (bollocks to that, as you might say!) Joking aside, this is a really great post and may find itself being cribbed from by many a school leader.

    1. bigkid4 Post author

      Thanks very much. If anybody makes any use of my ideas I’d be delighted. I’ve found that coming up with ideas for what I would do is much harder than criticising the ideas of others. This is especially true because I can’t see myself ever being in a position to put my ideas into practice so motivating myself to come up with positive ideas can be difficult whereas motivating myself to criticise the utter bollocks we are bombarded with daily is easy…


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