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01 September 2006

New tools to help head teachers

David Herbert of our education consultancy Cambridge Education won the 2006 in-house Milne Award for a novel resource devised to help schools in England assess teacher performance in relation to pay progression.

Under the performance threshold introduced into teachers’ pay structure in England six years ago, eligible teachers could apply for performance related pay progression. If successful, they received a significant pay increment and access to a further range of perform-ance related pay opportunities – an approach which represented radical change. These threshold pay decisions were moderated in England by Cambridge Education as part of the Teacher Pay Reform (TPR) contract on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

Two years later those teachers who had successfully crossed the pay threshold became the first ones eligible for further pay pro-gression (post-threshold). But this time the pay decisions were to be made by head teachers and governors with no external mod-eration. However, head teachers were concerned about making the decisions by themselves for a number of reasons. There was a lack of clarity in the one national criterion and guidance and school performance management arrangements which had to underpin these pay decisions were frequently insecure. Furthermore the decisions had to be made in a sensitive political climate where teacher unions exerted significant pressures on head teachers and there was no independent guidance or publication in the market to support head teachers and governors in these issues.

This is where David stepped in. He initiated and led development of a suite of publications and training courses to support head teachers in the areas of perform-ance evaluation and pay decis-ion making – and Cambridge Education has led the market ever since.

Cambridge Education’s re-sources are almost all new concepts in the education mark-et and there are no significant competitor products. They interpret legislative requirements, clarify professional issues, illustrate approaches that can be taken and define practical support methods. Feedback and evaluation shows that they have provided head teachers with the confidence to make and justify pay decisions. The resources have strengthened head teachers’ leadership and helped them improve their schools as well as enabling them to see further opportunities within the re-quirements and find new ways of leading more effectively.
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