Performance-related pay


Since 2014, all decisions about teachers’ pay progression have been linked to performance, and all pay awards must take this into account in the setting of teachers’ pay through the appraisal process.

Performance-related pay has received some negative press, the main concerns being that it adds to teachers' workload and pay progression can be unfair due to circumstances which are out of teachers’ control, meaning that they can’t reach objectives.

This article will aid schools in implementing the statutory performance-related pay successfully by ensuring it is understood, so that realistic objectives are set and pay decisions can be made fairly.


Pay policy


Schools’ pay policies should establish how pay decisions will be made in their school.

Pay policies:

  • Must account for performance-related pay for classroom teachers and leaders.
  • Should minimise the impact on workload for individual teachers, line managers and headteachers.
  • Should be reviewed annually to clarify their approach to making performance-related pay decisions.

By ensuring this, schools provide the best platform for teachers and leaders to excel in their roles. When teachers understand their pay policy, it allows them to actively strive towards meeting their objectives. The government expects that ‘good' classroom teachers should reach the maximum of the main pay range within five years.

When schools determine their pay policy, they should be clear about the circumstances in which an increase will not be merited and the way a ‘good’ and ‘exceptional’ employee will be differentiated. As long as it is within the statutory framework, schools are free to adopt whatever system of pay scales they see fit, for example a traditional six point main and three point upper pay range.

TheSchoolBus is here to help with creating a Pay Policy – access our STPCD 2018 compliant version here.




Meeting objectives does not necessarily mean a teacher is awarded pay progression; for example, a headteacher may consider that a teacher who has made good progress, but not quite achieved a particularly challenging objective, has performed better and made a more significant contribution than a teacher who has met a less stretching objective.

An important consideration that line managers should remember when setting objectives is that staff should be able to have a work-life balance.


Objectives and targets often involve extra work, so ensure that the rewards reflect the effort of the objective.

It is important to ensure that objectives are achievable, or else staff may feel that they are fighting a losing battle and performance-related pay may, in fact, become a demotivator. Schools do not want to promote the notion that there are more ‘losers’ than ‘winners’ because this will likely disincentivise teachers, who could feel that their efforts are going unnoticed and unappreciated.

Having everything measured in financial gain can be problematic as, when teachers do not progress up the pay scales, efforts can seem pointless. So, it is important that objectives are measured fairly – for example, teachers’ efforts, good intentions and supportive behaviours are rewarded and praised just as much as pupil outcomes.




During an appraisal, a teacher should be assessed on their performance against their set objectives as well as the relevant standards. Governing boards should determine how much responsibility they will delegate to headteachers during an appraisal process – headteachers may delegate the role of appraising teachers; however, they will ultimately be accountable.

A headteacher should establish whether teachers have met their objectives, this may include some of the following:

  • Impact on pupil progress
  • Impact on wider outcomes for pupils
  • Improvements in specific elements of practice, such as behaviour management
  • Impact on the effectiveness of teachers or other staff
  • Wider contribution to the work of the school

Schools should establish an Appraisal and Capability Policy, which determines:

  • How teachers’ objectives are set.
  • How performance is assessed and measured.
  • How moderation will take place.
  • The type and levels of performance that lead to pay progression.
  • How observation is managed within the school.
  • Whether there will be higher expectations of certain teachers, e.g. those on higher pay ranges.
  • How senior leaders will quality-assure judgements that lead to pay progression.
  • Whether, and what, evidence will be used during the appraisal decision-making process.

If appropriate, the teacher and their line manager should consider any additional support and training to improve performance before the end of the appraisal cycle. This appraisal process should be robust enough to fully enable all teachers to demonstrate their performance; however, the process should not be overly time-consuming.


Pay progression


The STPCD makes clear that good performance should lead to pay progression, which should be made clear in the school’s Pay Policy. If a teacher does not achieve pay progression, feedback should outline the evidence that was accounted for to support the decision and explain how any developmental issues can be addressed.

Teachers on maternity or extended sick leave are entitled to pay progression in the same way as their colleagues, whether or not they have returned to service at the date of the annual pay review.

No surprises

Leaders should provide teachers with constructive feedback on their performance throughout the year. As well as the annual assessment, schools should review and address their performance and development priorities on an agreed basis between the teacher and their line manager.

Teachers and appraisers should ensure that they agree and understand the objectives that are in place, the evidence that will be used to assess performance against objectives and the criteria for a successful performance review.

Teachers should be given the opportunity to discuss the pay recommendations with the appraiser or headteacher before the pay decision is taken; if, after this discussion, a teacher does not agree with the recommendation, they should make a formal representation to the governing board.

Measuring objectives  

Context needs to be considered when measuring objectives – it is unfair to set a target of 70 percent of a class to be exceeding age-related expectations when there is a high percentage of SEND, EAL, summer-born children, etc. in a class.


Pay decisions


Schools must give teachers written details of their pay annually, which helps to ensure that governors and school leaders meet their obligations both to undertake pay assessments and to inform teachers whose pay has changed. The information should include the following:

  • Any payment and financial benefits awarded to the teacher and the period for which they are awarded
  • Any safeguarded sums that the teacher is entitled to
  • In the case of a leadership group or a leading practitioner teacher, the basis upon which remuneration has been determined and the criteria
  • The nature of any fixed-term contract
  • Details of where the school’s Pay Policy can be found

In addition, it is considered good practice to provide teachers with a copy of the school’s Pay Policy by 31 October each year.




Teachers can raise formal appeals against pay decisions if, for example, any of the following are apparent:

  • The school’s Pay Policy was incorrectly applied
  • The STPCD was incorrectly applied
  • There was no proper regard to statutory guidance
  • There was no effort to take proper account of relevant evidence
  • The appraiser took account of irrelevant or inaccurate evidence
  • The appraiser was biased
  • The appraiser unlawfully discriminated against the teacher




DfE (2011) ‘Teachers’ standards’

DfE (2018) ‘Implementing your school’s approach to pay’

DfE (2018) ‘School teachers’ pay and conditions document 2018’

NEU (2018) ‘Understanding pay progression’ <> [Accessed: 24 September 2018]