ESRC SDAI DfE Highlight Notice: The Effects of Teacher Pay Reforms on Teacher Pay, Teacher Careers and Student Attainment (Invited Resubmission)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Quantitative Social Science

Abstract

Delivering good education means attracting and incentivising good teachers to perform well and remain in the profession. Ofsted and the National Audit Office (NAO) have highlighted problems recruiting teachers and developing attractive career paths for those entering the profession. Centralised pay determination is deemed part of the problem since it is unable to respond to workers' outside options in local labour markets (Britton and Propper 2016). In 2012 the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) argued: "The current pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate and does not support schools to recruit the high-quality teachers or leaders" (DfE 2012). It recommended increased flexibility in determining teacher salaries and greater discretion in teacher recruitment and retention. It also recommended linking teacher pay to excellence and performance improvement, with higher rewards and more rapid progression for the most able teachers. The reforms came into effect in 2013 for new teachers and for all in 2014 (STRB, 2013) and provided "maintained" schools with powers Academies already had. There is currently no evidence on its effects on schools, teachers or student attainment. This study will fill this gap in knowledge, and will assess to what degree the reform can help recruit and retain teachers.

It is unclear what impact the reforms might have had. First, there is little evidence regarding the value of performance pay (PP) in the public sector. The literature linking PP to increased output via worker sorting and incentive effects relates mainly to for-profit activities. The sorting and incentive effects of PP are less certain for public sector professionals where intrinsic motivation plays an important part in occupational choice and worker effort (Burgess and Metcalfe, 2000). Traditionally teachers have been rewarded through career incentives based on incremental pay progression and promotion (Prendergast, 1999: 10). Schools may wish to stick to "tried and tested" approaches given difficulties appraising the benefits of changing. On the other hand, schools may act in the knowledge that research indicates that the pay of teachers relative to other professions is an important factor in attracting high ability workers to teaching (Dolton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez, 2011). More broadly, there is no reason to suspect that efficiency wages should not affect worker effort and labour turnover in public sector occupations just as they do in the private sector.

Our study will compare the school-level distribution in teacher pay pre- and post-reforms, and whether this varies by school, teacher and regional characteristics. Using estimates of pay levels under the pre-reform regime to capture counterfactual wages, we will develop statistical tests to identify the schools changing their pay setting behaviour and compare them to those that did not. This classification of schools will allow us to examine the impact of the pay reforms on schools' ability to fill teacher vacancies, on the entry wages of new hires, wage progression among incumbents and teacher mobility within and across schools. We will consider the effects of the pay reforms on teacher retention and investigate whether the pay reforms changed teacher characteristics through effects on those entering and leaving the profession. Finally, we will examine how the pay reforms may have affected average student attainment at the school level.

The findings will interest policy makers concerned with the implementation and effects of the teacher pay-reform, academics interested in (de)centralised pay structures and PP in the public sector and educationalists with a focus on teacher labour markets. The results may also affect school leaders' propensity to depart from "tried and tested" pay practices to manage their school's workforce.

Planned Impact

This project will inform policy on teacher pay, with associated benefits for teacher incentives, retention of good teachers and, thus, the quality of teaching in schools. As such, the findings will ultimately be important for pupils, parents, teachers, school governors, and head teachers, although this impact will be indirect through changes to policy and practice via the channels we discuss below. For pupils and parents, the aim of a better-informed policy on teacher pay is fundamentally about improving the quality of teaching and, thus, pupil performance. For school governors and head teachers, better teacher pay practices are about improving staff recruitment, retention and motivation at their schools.

We have identified four key groups on whom we wish to have impact. In addition to the academic beneficiaries already mentioned, the chief beneficiaries of this research will be policy makers, primarily in the Department for Education; schools, academy chains and local authorities (i.e. employers of teachers); and trade unions representing teachers and head teachers.

Policy makers: Civil servants and ministers within the Department for Education (DfE) are likely to find the research findings particularly relevant, especially those relating to the impact of the reforms on teacher pay, pay dispersion, pay progression and teacher mobility and sorting, and student outcomes. We have already approached Tim Leunig, policy adviser at DfE, who has intimated that the DfE would be keen to provide a representative for a stakeholder advisory group if the project is funded.

Schools, Academy Chains and Local Authorities (Employers): Our findings will be of considerable interest to schools, academy chains and local authorities, allowing them to make more informed decisions about whether to deviate from prior pay setting models and what the consequences of such decisions might be. Representatives from these groups, or representative bodies such as the Local Government Association, will be invited to the one day impact workshop. We also expect to reach this group through our planned media outputs.

Trade Unions: Trade unions representing teachers and head teachers have expressed deep concern about the impact of incentive pay on wages and fairness at work, so will be interested in the impacts of increased teacher pay flexibility. Bryson has a close relationship with the TUC and is currently undertaking research for them on the impact of unions on employers and employees. Bryson has recently met with NUT's Deputy General Secretary to discuss the value of new data sources in establishing what is happening to teacher pay and careers. Our study will feed into policy formation at the TUC and its affiliate unions.

The one day workshop planned for month 12 of the study will bring together these practitioner and policy beneficiaries with academics in the field to discuss early findings from the study and their implications for policy and practice.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have already generated significant new knowledge on the topic of the pay reforms and the teacher labour market. Our initial descriptive analysis of the data suggest a moderate upward change in teacher pay post-reform, arresting a downward trend in teacher pay in the pre-reform period going back to 2010, with longer pre-trends and the influence of measurement error on these estimates currently being explored. In contrast there has been minimal change in the variance of teacher pay across schools, for either primary or secondary teachers, between pre- and post-reform, which would be expected if schools were widely adopting pay flexibility in response to the reform.

We do, nevertheless, in the first paper from this project employ a data driven approach to identify different types of school-level responses to the pay reforms; non-adopters, mean-zero adopters, negative adopters and positive adopters. Non-adopters appear to not adopt pay flexibility whatsoever. Mean-zero adopters adopt pay flexibility which results in no change in the mean wage. Negative adopters adopt pay flexibility resulting in a lower mean wage. Positive adopters adopt pay flexibility resulting in a higher mean wage. Provisional analysis suggests adoption of pay flexibility is positively correlated with being in London, the number of teachers, a young teacher workforce, more pupils eligible for FSM and higher teacher turnover, whilst being negatively correlated with large teacher pay bills; and a larger share of budget on teachers.

These initial findings were of great interest to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), who invited us to present our work at an STRB annual strategy meeting and with whom we are developing an ongoing research partnership with. The remaining time on the project will be to examine the impact of adopting pay flexibility on a range of teacher labour market and student attainment outcomes.
Exploitation Route We will complete this section once we have completed the outcomes of the project.
Sectors Education

 
Description The initial findings from this project are beginning to help shape the understanding of policymakers of the impact of the teacher pay reforms. Our work was received with great interest at the STRB annual strategy meeting, with the STRB requesting updates from our project on an ongoing basis. The STRB provides annual recommendations to the government on policy related to teacher pay, thus our work is and will continue to influence best practice in this area.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Presentation at the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) annual strategy meeting
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description 13/03/20: Presentation at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Date: March 13th 2020
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description 25/06/20: EALE SOLE AASLE World Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Date - 25/06/20
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Advisory Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 9 policy makers, practitioners, researchers, and third sector workers convened to provide thoughts on our programme of work, offer ideas for broader dissemination activities and provide professional insights to assist the interpretation of hypothesised findings. Outcomes included excellent feedback from the advisory panel on our project and programme of work and requests for continued participation in future advisory groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Advisory Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This advisory group was convened to disseminate initial project findings to our major stakeholders and academics6, and to invite them to provide feedback on our methodological approach and its application, provide professional insights to assist the interpretation of key findings and to offer ideas for broader dissemination activities. There were 8 people in total, and the feedback and insight provided was hugely valuable, particularly in tackling some of the methodological challenges of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Invitation to present work at School Teachers Review Body Strategy Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Our team was invited to present the initial findings from our project to the STRB, an independent advisory body that makes recommendations to Government on the pay and conditions of teachers in England. Our work was put forward by Ken Clark, who is part of our advisory group and the STRB's economist member, and the STRB found the work to be very relevant. We remain in contact with the STRB and they will be represented at future advisory groups and the end of project workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation at Institute of Labor Economics. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Excellent feedback from top economists in the field of labour economics, particularly considering how to interpret our findings and which further outcomes to consider. Approximately 40 academics attended, from Germany and internationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation at University of Newcastle Business School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation at the University of Newcastle Business School, with the purpose of disseminating initial findings of the project nationally and obtaining feedback on the framing of the paper, which was important in the drafting of the discussion paper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation of paper at the Department of Social Science Seminar Series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation of our discussion paper to the DoSS seminar series. The feedback from the audience was very useful, particularly in thinking about how to interpret our findings, and some aspects of the methodological challenges. The seminar was attended by approximately 30 academics, from different departments within UCL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation of paper at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The intended purpose was to obtain feedback from economists on the methods employed in this project. The feedback was useful, particularly in helping to formulate our approach to identifying schools which adopted the pay reforms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Work in progress seminar at the Centre for Economic Performance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact We presented work at the CEP work in progress seminar which was extremely useful in helping us frame our paper and providing us with advice on a number of methodological challenges. There were approximately 35 academics in attendance, mostly from the LSE.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019