Pay and conditions

ASCL position statements

What is the context?
A quarter of the UK’s workforce already works part-time, while nearly two-thirds of the UK’s full-time workforce has some other form of flexibility. However, this is not reflected across the education sector.

The DfE’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy reports that many teachers leave or choose not to return to teaching because they cannot access part-time or other flexible working opportunities.

While there can be some real or perceived barriers to flexible working in schools, there is more that can be done to accommodate requests where possible.

ASCL co-chaired the Flexible Working in Schools Summit in December 2017. We have a long-standing commitment to encouraging and supporting more flexible working in schools.

ASCL position:
We welcome the DfE’s commitment, in their Recruitment and Retention Strategy, to support headteachers to adapt to changing demands by helping to transform approaches to flexible working.

ASCL believes that all employers should positively consider flexible working opportunities for all staff. They should proactively work to overcome any challenges that this may present in order to recruit and retain high quality staff, and to help address equality and diversity issues across the profession. We will support our members to do this by providing guidance, case studies and articles, and signposting relevant research and literature.

Why are we saying it?
The teacher recruitment and retention crisis is worsening year-on-year and, with a projected significant increase in secondary pupil numbers by 2026, urgent action needs to be taken.  

Flexible working has been highlighted as one way to help increase both recruitment and retention. This is by enabling schools to recruit talented staff that may otherwise not have applied and to retain specialist expertise and maintain the breadth of curriculum.  

It can also provide opportunities to reduce costs by implementing alternative ways of working.  

In addition to helping to address equality and diversity issues, flexible working has been shown to have a positive impact on staff wellbeing, leading to improved energy and creativity for the whole staff.

What is the context? Performance-related pay (PRP) was introduced for all teachers in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) in September 2013.  Although academies are not bound by the STPCD, the majority still follow it, particularly in relation to PRP.  

ASCL position: There is currently no evidence that performance-related pay impacts positively on pupil outcomes, and growing evidence that it may have a negative impact on retention and workload. Therefore, we believe that employers should have the autonomy to choose whether or not to continue with a performance-related pay system or to develop an alternative robust appraisal system that is not linked to pay.

Why are we saying it? Recent research suggests that PRP does not work in schools in the same way that it does in business. Linking pay to performance, which can be difficult to effectively and accurately measure in an increasingly subjective accountability system, can actually demotivate teachers.

In addition, the bureaucracy involved in linking performance to pay impacts negatively on workload for both the school leaders operating the system, and the staff being appraised.


What is the context? The employer pension contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) is valued every four years. At the most recent valuation it was decided to increase the rate from 16.48% to 23.6% from this September because of a lower than anticipated economic growth forecast.

The government has said that it will fully fund this rise for state-funded schools (£830m) and FE, sixth form colleges and other training providers (£80m) in the 2019/20 financial year. It will then be a matter for the government spending review.

The government does not intend to fund the rise in HE (£80m) or independent schools (£110m). The lack of notice of this change means that independent schools have not been able to plan for it. The additional financial burden this will impose means that some independent schools are considering no longer offering access to the TPS, and instead looking for alternative pension provision for their employees.

ASCL position: Where a teacher or school or college leader meets the eligibility requirements for the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and wishes to enrol or remain in the scheme, then their employer should make this provision available.

Why are we saying it? Whilst we recognise the financial burden the increase in employer contributions will have on schools, and the disproportionate impact this will have on smaller institutions, the answer cannot be to withdraw from the TPS. Instead, employers should make every effort to make savings elsewhere in order to continue to offer access to the TPS.

Access to a high-quality pension scheme is a fundamental benefit which teachers expect to receive, regardless of the sector in which they work. Were independent schools to withdraw from the TPS, we are concerned that this would negatively impact on teachers and leaders working in the independent sector, on recruitment and retention in the sector, and on ease of movement between the state and independent sectors.

What is the context? Up until 2012 all teachers paid the same percentage of their salary pension as pension contributions. This was changed to six, now five, bands so that the higher the salary, the greater the percentage contribution. With a Final Salary scheme, this was a way of ensuring contributions reflected pension accrued.

ASCL position: Following the introduction of the Career Average (CARE) scheme, ASCL believes there should be a simplified contribution system into the Teachers’ Pension Scheme with, for example, two tiers.

Why are we saying it? With the introduction of the CARE scheme for Teachers’ Pensions in 2015, this has become an inequitable way of paying contributions. The CARE pension is based on a fixed percentage of everyone’s salary over their career and so the contributions made should also be a fixed percentage of an individual’s salary. Currently, higher paid members of the scheme are funding the pensions of the rest of the members of the scheme as well as their own.

What is the context? Following recommendations by the STRB, the 2017 School Teachers Pay and Conditions document uplifted the minimum and maximum of the main pay range by 2% and 1% on other pay ranges, without any additional funding from the government.

We are yet to see what the STRB’s recommendations are for 2018, or whether there will be any additional funding.

ASCL position: As a fundamental principle, all national pay awards should be fully funded by central government. The impact of not fully funding the pay award will bring schools to crisis point and place our members in an invidious position, making it necessary to set deficit budgets and leading to schools becoming insolvent.

In order to maintain competitiveness in the labour market, ASCL believes that the annual uplift should apply to all teachers and leaders and that employers should ensure that their pay policies reflect this principle.

Why are we saying it? The STPCD no longer includes national scales for each pay range, only a minimum and maximum value for each range; it is for employers to decide whether or not to include scales and if so what values to apportion.  The STRB recommendation can therefore only ever be to uplift the minima and maxima points.  ASCL’s view is that the uplift should apply to any pay point or allowance that has been adopted by the employer within their policy.

The pressure on school finances is caused by the lack of government funding for these increases, and ASCL believes it is essential that the government provides the necessary funding so that schools can afford to pay their staff appropriately.

As a fundamental principle, all national pay awards should be fully funded by central government.

In order to maintain competitiveness in the labour market, ASCL believes that the annual uplift should apply to all teachers and leaders and that pay policies should reflect this principle.

A school system based on academies is best served by the retention of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document as a minimum national benchmark. This would ensure stability within the system and allow school leaders and governing bodies to focus on raising standards in schools.

ASCL values the significant contribution that EU citizens and other non-British nationals make to the education of our children and young people. Given the current teacher recruitment crisis, we feel strongly that the future employment rights of EU citizens as part of the UK schools’ and colleges’ workforce must be protected.

ASCL recognises that facility time is a statutory responsibility and advises strongly that members’ employers buy into Local Authority pooled arrangements where it is available.

ASCL believes the proposed change to the SCAPE discount rate from 2019 onwards must be fully funded to avoid a further negative impact on children in schools.

ASCL fully agrees with the STRB view that a 1% pay rise is insufficient to address the recruitment and retention issues and continues to believe any annual uplift must be fully funded by central government.

ASCL UK believes that, in the event of Pay and Conditions being devolved in Wales, the following principles should apply:

  • That parity of the principles of both pay and conditions with England should be retained.
  • In order for the pay of school leaders to remain comparable, their pay range should be calculated using a three stage process similar to that in the current STPCD.
  • That Governors should retain the flexibility within agreed budgets to set the pay of school leaders.
  • That school leaders' conditions of service should be specific to the profession and not be incorporated within public service pay and conditions.

ASCL is dismayed that the sudden reduction in lifetime pension allowance from April 2016 and the detrimental effect it will have on public servants who have given a lifetime of service to education and who will be excessively taxed in their retirement.

ASCL reaffirms its commitment to a formal mechanism for the alignment of pay for all members of the leadership team, regardless of their qualification base and route into leadership roles. We will support members in demanding that employers review role profiles in order to ensure the job evaluations of business leaders and business managers accurately reflect their roles and responsibilities.

The future, prosperity and wellbeing of the nation depends on the quality of its education service. Consequently, we must recruit and retain the highest calibre of teachers and school leaders. We will submit joint evidence with the other teaching unions in response to the Secretary of State’s 25th remit to the STRB on pressing for a fully funded pay rise above the proposed 1%.

As a fundamental principle and in order to maintain competitiveness in the labour market ASCL believes that the annual uplift should apply to all teachers and leaders and will only support pay policies that reflect this principle. This needs to be fully funded by central government.

The proposed increase in employers’ national insurance and pension contributions from September 2015 militates against the government’s policy to require schools to recruit and reward the best teachers.

ASCL welcomes the reduction from eight to six tiers in the 2015 pensions settlement but will continue its commitment, in each future evaluation, to reduce this to our preferred two tiers.

ASCL supports the development of a national structure for school business managers’ remuneration and career development.

ASCL recognises the argument for a move from FTE to actual salaries earned for pension contributions but not at a further detriment to school and college leaders.

ASCL broadly welcomes the recommendations of the STRB in their 23rd report.

P&C committee recommends that ASCL provides guidance, and where possible, policy around pay.

The STRB one per cent pay increase should be considered as a 'cost of living' pay increase and applied across the board to all staff as the final year of a four-year package.

For the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, ASCL’s preferred model is a two-tier contribution structure with a lower tier for the lowest paid and a common tier for all other scheme members.