Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140-155)|
WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2002
140. You cannot pay anything if you do not make
(Mr Hart) I accept that, but we are not talking about
a profit making business; we are talking about a public service.
If you are going to introduce performance-related pay in a public
service which is not a profit making business, all we are saying
is you have got to make sure the money is there to make that workable.
The difficulty we now faceand it will be across thousands
of schools in this country, the vast majority of schools in this
country, I would suggestis that if the money is not there
in adequate amountsand we are not talking about 100 per
cent, by the way, going through, we will make the difficult decisionsif
the money is not there, then it is going to have to come from
somewhere else. I think that is wrong in the first, vital four
years or so of the scheme. That is all we are saying. We are not
saying we want the money in perpetuity; we are saying we need
it in that crucial first, say, four years.
Mr Chaytor: I am looking at the submission from
the Secondary Heads' Association to this Committee, where you
discuss the question of autonomy and say, "Greater autonomy
and less central prescriptiveness would, however, be most welcome
to school leaders." Over the last 14 years, head teachers,
year on year, have had greater autonomy. Surely part of that greater
autonomy is the responsibility to make judgments about the allocation
of budgets to staffing purposes, to resources, to materials, to
capital, yet, when faced with this hard decision, you back off
and you say, "It is not our responsibility to make judgments."
But this is what many people find confusing.
141. You only like autonomy when it is easy.
(Mr Hart) No, no, no.
(Dr Dunford) We are always making those autonomous
decisions within the framework of accountability, within the framework
of what is much more about a state education system, and we have
here the rules of the game, as it were, of performance pay which
are being laid down in a way which we believe makes it impossible
for us to be fair and motivate properly our good teachers. That
is why we are saying that we believe that this is something that
should have been done differently.
Chairman: If I could just bring Paul in here.
Paul Holmes: As a result of what my colleague
has been asking, I want to seek some clarification. Until eight
months ago, I had been a teacher for 22 years and I thought I
knew how this system worked but I am beginning to doubt it now.
It used to be, until quite recently, that you became a teacher
and after about nine years you got to about £24,000 and that
was it, you were stuck, you could not get any more money. The
only way you could get more money was to take on managerial responsibility:
head of department, head of year, etc. David Blunkett introduced
a scheme and Estelle Morris trumpeted it in the summer and early
autumn, saying, "We now have a scheme, the performance/management
upper pay spine, whereby a teacher who would have been stuck for
the rest of their lives at £24,000, effectively, can now
rise up to £30,000 because they are a good classroom teacher"
(as opposed to taking on bureaucracy and management). The clear
intention was that good teachers would rise up to £30,000.
David Chaytor seems to be saying that the new system for classroom
teachers to be able to rise up to £30,000 without taking
on management that takes away from the classroom, so they can
exercise their good classroom skills in the classroom, should
turn into another one of competing for scale posts where four
people apply and one gets the job and so forth.
Mr Chaytor: Is that a question to me or . .
Chairman: I have to ask you, please direct the
questions to the witnesses and not to colleagues.
142. Am I correct in what I thought was the
(Mr Hart) Yes. That is the system.
143. The new upper pay scale, so we were told
by two secretaries of state quite recently, David Blunkett and
Estelle Morris, was designed to allow a good classroom practitioner
to carry on in the classroom and to rise to £30,000 if they
were good at their job.
(Mr Hart) Can I say thisand this is partially
an answer to my colleague Peter Smith. Suppose a governing body
says, "We are not prepared under any circumstances to allocate
a penny of extra money from within the school's budget to fund
the performance-related pay scheme. We are not prepared to do
that. The only money we are prepared to devote to a performance-related
pay scheme in this school is what the Government is going to give
us"the 50 per cent or whatever it is. It is Peter
Smith's members who are going to suffer because the head will
then have to say, "Right, if that is the money I have got
to spend then I am going to have to apply criteria which makes
sure that only x number of teachers get the moneybecause
that is all I have got." What about those who are doing just
as well as the teachers that head has picked out? Peter Smith
and his colleagues will be banging on the head teacher's door
the next day: equal pay, racial discrimination, sex discriminationall
grievances, the lot, will come in. I know it will come in as night
follows day because I know what the other teacher unions' agenda
is. That is the crucial problem we face and that crucial problem
can only be alleviated and the Government's own pay structure
supported if we get the funding, the properly needed funding,
in those crucial first four years. That is the crux of the problem.
144. Can I turn to a slightly different area
now. Peter Smith was saying that it is a shame that in schools
now the only mechanism that seems to matter is market competition.
He said that did not really work properly in an educational setting.
We heard from Jonathan earlier that some schools in Kent, for
example, have large reserves. But what happens to the schools
in the poorer areas, the schools that for whatever reason are
less successful, the schools that serve the inner city council
estates, etc? They do not have money reserves, they have only
deficitscertainly the ones in my constituency. Under this
system, even if the head wanted to, even if the governors wanted
to, they do not have any extra money to allocate into rewarding
good classroom teachers, so the good classroom teachers go to
the successful schools and the other schools, the other half of
the schools who are not specialist and not getting any extra money,
etc, are going to have an even bigger problem of recruiting good
teachers and keeping good teachers than the educational sector
as a whole is doing already.
(Dr Dunford) Chairman, one of the wider issues that
we are concerned about is the polarisation of the secondary school
sector as the Government encourages diversity between schools
and so on. I think one of our concerns here is that gradually
over time there will be an increase in that polarisation as a
direct result of this policy. Because the Government is putting
£100 million in for a part year followed by £150 million
in for a full year into this performance pay structure, threshold
apart. That £150 million in a full year is less than £100
million proportionately in a part year and I believe that the
Government intends to decrease the amount of money over time that
it puts into this performance pay and rely more on it coming directly
out of school budgets. Your constituency, Paul, I know suffers
particularly badly because of the unfairnesses in the funding
system and I think that will worsen over time . . . That is one
of the reasons why we feel we have to make a stand at this stage,
before we get too far down the road and those funding problems
become too acute and the polarisation becomes too great, to ensure
that that does not happen.
145. The schools in the poor areas, that most
need the good teachers, are going to have less chance of actually
recruiting and keeping them because of this system.
(Dr Dunford) Yes, absolutely.
Chairman: I am not sure I understand the logic
of that. But, David . . .
146. I understand the logic of the argument
but it is a distraction from the main issue of the standards review
and the funding for specialist schools. Can either of you tell
us the distinction between a good teacher, a cracking good teacher
and an excellent teacher?
(Mr Hart) I think the answer to your question is that
a good teacher is a teacher who demonstrates a sustained and substantial
performance; in other words, continues the good work they demonstrated
at threshold. So they are continuing to demonstrate sustained
and substantial performance, they make a contribution to the work
of the school. That is what the criteria laid down are, and that
is the definition of a good teacher. The definition of somebody
who is excellent is, I think, the advanced skills teacher grade.
The advanced skills teacher grade is supposed to be the grade
for the very best teachers, and they are being created, they are
being employed in increasing numbers. I think those are the two
quite distinct types of teacher that we are talking about. How
you actually define that can only be done by criteria laid down
in terms of the objective setting of an individual teacher supporting
those criteria at national level.
147. To some of us it does seem a little churlish
that here is a government who has actually tackled this problem
and provided substantial new resources so that we can attract
good teachers into the classroom and pay them reasonably well
and at that very time you announce industrial action.
(Dr Dunford) I think it is quite an achievement to
put £0.25 million into performance pay and upset so many
Valerie Davey: I think you are muddying the
water, with respect, with all your expertise, in questioning,
as it would appear to us and, I think, the Government, performance-related
pay scheme which you have already virtually agreed, with what
I see you to be arguing forand I would be arguing if I
were youwhich is for interim funding. I accept Kate's position,
I accept the position that was asked for before. If a head teacher
has done 80 hours on threshold work this last couple of years,
that is because all the teachers at a certain year were coming
into a new system. No one is going to do those 80 hours again
because each year in future there will be a structure coming through
where there will be teachers at different ages and different sectors
coming through. What Kate has got in her school, and I sympathise
with her, are all the teachers coming into a new scheme, all saying,
for whatever reason, "We fit the criteria." She will
not have that in the future. That will be a different spectre
as teachers move through. If I were you, I would be asking for
. . . I cannot think of the right phrase. What is the phrase you
have when you buy a house and you have not got the money to pay?
Mr Shaw: Bridging loan.
148. Bridging loan. For however many years,
you need bridging money to see yourself through, to stabilise
a system which you agree with. Why upset the Government with the
possibility of action, when actually, it seems to me sitting here,
there is fundamental agreement, you just need bridging money?
(Mr Hart) Perhaps the secretary of state can persuade
the Treasury, because I suspect the Treasury is behind all this,
that we do need sensible bridging money over a four-year period.
149. I am not saying how long or anything else.
(Mr Hart) All right. I said four years. We have said
that as an NAHT. All we have ever said is that we accept at some
stage in the future, quite in the reasonably near future, it is
all going to be brought into one pot. Simple, no problems. But
you have to transitionalise it over a period of time. Call it
a bridging loan, if you like, all I am simply saying is: "Let's
have decent money over a short term period so that we can settle
(Dr Dunford) The sort of suggestion that Valerie has
just made is exactly the sort of thing that we have been suggesting
to the Government during 12 months of negotiation about all of
this. They have not moved.
Chairman: I am sure Valerie is available as
150. I am just trying to simplify what has happened
here. Not having been a teacher and having been in a profession
which looked enviously at the money that was being thrown at teachingI
would love to have seen social workers earning anywhere near that
amount of payis the issue that what was set out and what
you understoodand this pre-dates my entry as a member of
parliament, so I will not have been as aware of the detail as
you would have been in terms of when the process was set uphas
been gone back on, that what was sent out is not what is now happening?
Is that what you are saying?
(Mr Hart) There is a dispute about this, but the fact
isand Estelle mentions in her letter to all heads, she
talks about the Green Paperthe NAHT laid down the 10 conditions
(if that is the right word) for our delivery of the performance
management system. One of those conditions was full funding. We
were assured by the Department for Education and Skills that there
would be full funding of the performance-related pay system over
a transitional period of time. We have always had that understanding
with them, we have always talked about, "We must get all
these pots of money into one pot. With the new funding system
coming in, let's have a transitional period and we will all then
move into one stream of money." That was what we were given
to understand. The then secretary of state 12 months ago at SHA's
annual conference made the announcement about the £250 million.
We have been arguing ever since with the Government about the
fact that is inadequate. We believe very strongly that we were
assured by the department there would be full funding for performance
151. How could anybody know, setting out at
that point, what full funding would mean, given that nobody gets
written a blank cheque? How could that have been an agreement?
(Dr Dunford) To make a successful system, you can
either operate on the funding or you can operate on the criteria.
What you cannot have is what we have got at the moment, which
is cash limited funding and a very generalised criteria. If you
have a cash limited funding pot, then you need more precise, better
criteria by which to make a judgment. What the secretary of state
was suggesting in her letter to heads yesterday is that they invent
those criteria, but the problem is that we are lumbered with a
system in which, as David said earlier, the secretary of state
wanted to have graduated criteria as you get higher up the spine
and the STRB said, "No, we will just have this one generalised
criteria." We are left with the problems of that situation.
152. I am still extremely puzzled by all of
this because nobody was ever going to get a blank cheque for anything
because the Government has a limited amount of money and then
is therefore going to give you a limited amount of money. How
can there have ever been an understanding that there would be
a blank cheque?
(Mr Hart) It is not a blank cheque. When we talk about
full funding, we mean the threshold approach. The threshold approach
is not full funding; the threshold approach is: You are fully
funded if you assess somebody as worth moving through the threshold.
It is true, Estelle is right in her letter, that is the subject
of external evaluation, but, remember, that external evaluation
of the threshold is moving to a very, very light monitoring approach
as a result of the STRB's recommendation which Estelle Morris
accepted. We see no reason at all why, over, as I say, a reasonably
short period of time, we should not apply the threshold approach
to the upper spine. In other words, if somebody is assessed as
appropriate to move up the upper spine on the criteria, that should
be funded. The Government has rejected that, clearly, in that
letter, so when I talk about fully funded I mean a demand-led
approach. If the Government does not want to go down the demand-led
approach, then the only other approach is to do what Valerie Davey,
I think, is talking about, which is to talk seriously about how
we can have a much better supported system in terms of money over
a limited period in order to bed it down and make it work. Do
what the School Teachers' Review Body recommended and the secretary
of state rejected. That is all we are asking for.
153. I think we are getting to the end of our
time. I make no apologies for spending a lot of time on this particular
issue. I hope you appreciate that this is a very real function
of the Committee, to give you a chance to explain to us what is
going on and for us, I hope, to put some probing questions. I,
on behalf of all the Committee, hope that this is resolved amicably
because whether you think the secretary of state put the two disputes
together in a sense if I was your public relations consultant
I would have said in a sense you also put it together because
it is at the same time. It is industrial action. But the newspapers
will put it together anyway. Thank you for your attendance. We
have learned a lot.
(Dr Dunford) Thank you very much. I am sorry we have
not had the opportunity perhaps to discuss in more detail all
the other issues that we want to discuss with you.
(Dr Dunford) Perhaps on another occasion.
155. I think the agenda was set by events.
(Dr Dunford) Indeed.