Just over half of teachers at English state schools support using pupils’ progress and results to decide whether they should receive pay increases, a new poll for the Sutton Trust revealed today.

The survey of 1,163 teachers by the National Foundation for Educational Research showed that 55% of primary teachers and 52% of secondary teachers accepted that ‘considering the progress and results of pupils they teach’ should be one of the criteria used to decide whether or not to give teachers an incremental pay increase.

Performance related pay was introduced for experienced teachers in 2000. The coalition is extending this for pay increases during the first five years of teaching, replacing length of service. Schools are required to revise their pay and appraisal policies to link pay progression to a teacher’s performance from September 2014. However, the teaching unions have opposed these changes.

Teachers were asked which criteria should be used to decide progression along the pay scale. The three criteria with the greatest support are:

  • Assessment by more senior staff (such as a line manager), backed by 60% of teachers, with stronger support by secondary teachers.
  • Assessment by the headteacher, backed by 54% of teachers, with stronger support by primary teachers.
  • Considering the progress and results of pupils they currently teach, backed by 53% of teachers, with similar results amongst primary and secondary teachers.

However, nearly half of teachers favour keeping the old criterion, where teachers received pay increases based on length of service, provided their progress is satisfactory. This was backed by 47% of teachers, including 49% of primary and 44% of secondary teachers.

37% of teachers believe their own self-assessment should feature in pay decisions, while just 10% think pupils’ evaluation of their performance should be a factor, though this rises to 14% among secondary teachers.

Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation said today:

“Effective appraisal and pay policies can help improve the 450,000-strong teaching workforce in England’s schools. This new polling shows a positive response by a majority of teachers to performance related pay, based on senior staff assessment and pupil progress.

“Sutton Trust research has shown evidence from the UK and the US that there is a significant correlation between teacher evaluations and exam results. However, the evidence also suggests that schools should rely on a combination of approaches to gain a fuller picture of teacher effectiveness, and that teachers should be assessed on their cumulative performance over several years rather than on the data from a single year.”


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 140 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) surveyed a representative sample of 1,163 teachers in March 2014 in both primary and secondary schools for their Teacher Voice omnibus survey.
  3. The Sutton Trust will be hosting a joint summit with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on teacher development on 3rd and 4th November 2014 in Washington DC. Speakers include US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
  4. The Sutton Trust published Testing Teachers, research on teacher appraisal by Richard Murphy of the London School of Economics, in March 2013. The report and press release can be viewed here. The report concluded that the contribution that teachers make to improving exam and test results is the most reliable way to predict a teacher’s long-term success. Improvements in pupils test scores are nearly twice as effective as student surveys and nearly three times more effective than classroom observations, even by independent, well-trained assessors. However, the report concludes that to achieve a reliable and fair measure others aspects of teacher performance should be included.
In your opinion, which criteria should be used to decide progression along the pay scale?
Assessment by the headteacher547136
Assessment by more senior staff (e.g. by their line manager)605665
Peer assessment by other teachers161319
Considering the progress and results of pupils they currently teach535552
Ofsted inspectors grading of their lessons9108
Self-evaluation of their performance374033
Evaluation by pupils10714
Length of service, so long as their progress is satisfactory474944
Other means647
No response100
N =1163602561
More than one answer could be given so percentages may sum to more than 100.
The percentages in this table are weighted by FSM rates for all schools and for secondary schools separately. Percentages are not weighted for primary schools.
Source: NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey March 2014.

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