1 STRUCTURED PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENTS GUIDANCE FOR NUT SOULBURY-PAID MEMBERS This document provides guidance for NUT Soulbury-paid members on the application of the Structured Professional Assessment (SPA) system as follows: Background Eligibility for Structured Professional Assessment The Assessment Criteria The Assessment Process Pay Progression under the SPA System Appeals Arrangements BACKGROUND The Soulbury Committee introduced the Structured Professional Assessments (SPA) system into the national Soulbury pay agreement from March The SPA system was established in response to higher pay levels for leadership group teachers and classroom teachers in primary and secondary schools. Its intention is to recognise and reward the contribution of highly skilled and qualified Soulbury-paid officers in helping local authorities meet the Government s educational and social objectives and to provide a further means of addressing recruitment and retention problems. The national Soulbury agreement sets out the pay spines for local authority officers in the three traditional Soulbury groups - educational inspectors and advisers, educational psychologists and youth and community service officers - and since 2005 also sets out the pay spines for other school improvement professionals such as national strategy consultants, early years advisers, Key Stage advisers etc. All of these Soulbury-paid officers are eligible to apply for Structured Professional Assessments against the nationally agreed criteria. Where they are successful in their applications and assessments, Soulbury-paid officers will receive up to three additional incremental points, usually referred to as SPA points, in addition to their normal individual pay scales. This document gives NUT guidance on the application of the SPA system. The national agreement itself, which has been revised with effect from September 2006 following the establishment of a third SPA point, is reproduced in full at the end of this document. ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS As noted above, all Soulbury-paid officers may apply for assessment providing they meet the eligibility criteria. Although the SPA system is administered locally, there is no local discretion for local authorities to decide whether or not their Soulbury paid employees are entitled to apply for assessments. The system covers the three traditional groups paid on Soulbury scales - educational inspectors and advisers, educational psychologists and youth and community service officers - and also other school improvement professionals paid on Soulbury scales.
2 2 Structured Professional Assessments take place at three levels. Soulbury-paid officers who meet the nationally agreed requirements at each of the three levels receive one additional pay point on each occasion. Where the first assessment is successful, the second and third assessments should follow thereafter at the appropriate point in service. The national Soulbury agreement sets out the following provisions with regard to eligibility: In order to be eligible for Structured Professional Assessment, a Soulbury-paid officer must have had four or more years continuous service with one or more local authorities. Authorities have the discretion, however, in exceptional circumstances to consider applications from individual officers earlier than this. The first assessment should in normal circumstances take place after not less than two years in the current post. Local authorities again have the discretion in exceptional circumstances to consider individual applications earlier than this. There is no specific period of time provided between the first assessment and the second assessment. The NUT believes that a period of one year would be appropriate. The award of a third SPA point will not be made until at least 2 years after officers have achieved the second SPA point. A Soulbury-paid officer who has been awarded SPA points and is later promoted to another Soulbury post in the same or another authority will be eligible to apply for Structured Professional Assessments and SPA points in respect of the new post after the appropriate period of employment. The implementation dates under the national Soulbury agreement for assessments and the award of SPA points were 1 May 2001 for the first point; 1 September 2001 for the second point; and 1 September 2006 for the third point. THE ASSESSMENT CRITERIA Structured Professional Assessments are based on the range of the duties, responsibilities and achievements of the individual officer against the agreed targets and objectives for the post. The national agreement provides a set of criteria for assessments for the first, second and third SPA points. These are set out below. SPA 1 Assessment for the first SPA point is based on the following five criteria: Development - Officers must show that they are fully informed of the developments in their area of specialism. Developing the Services - Officers must make a recognised contribution to the policy, planning and meeting of performance targets for their authority. Improving Standards - Officers must make an identified contribution to the improvement and evaluation of service delivery across all appropriate aspects of the authority s functions. Management and Administration - Officers must manage and assess resources to provide efficient delivery of services.
3 3 Equal Opportunities - Officers must contribute to the development of the authority s policies in improving access to their services and in raising achievement levels for their local communities. SPA 2 Assessment for the second SPA point is based on the following criterion: SPA 3 For the second level, officers contributions will need to be based on showing that they have made a sustained contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the service. Assessment for the third SPA point is based on the following criteria: To qualify for the award of the 3rd SPA point, officers will: need to demonstrate that they have made an exceptional contribution to the development of the service over a sustained period, for instance in developing the Children s Services agenda in the authority; be involved in a programme of CPD focused on the requirements of the service and the aspirations of the officers for their own professional development. This provision will be introduced into the Soulbury Report with effect from 1 September It should be noted that the Soulbury Committee has agreed that the criteria for award of a third SPA point are not based on any specific quota for its award. THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS The SPA system has been designed as a national system for local implementation. There is, regrettably, no nationally agreed joint advice on the implementation or administration of the SPA system. In view of this, local authorities have designed their own particular arrangements to administer the SPA system and a variety of local practices have emerged. The NUT believes that local professional assessment processes must be fair, transparent and robust. The following advice sets out the NUT s views on appropriate local systems for assessment. Making Appropriate Arrangements for Assessment Determination of an individual Soulbury-paid officer s assessment at the first, second or third levels should be undertaken by an appropriate officer of the employing authority. The NUT advises that all applications for a Structured Professional Assessment should be sent by the Soulbury officer to the Director or Chief Officer. The Director or Chief Officer, or his/her designated representative, should then determine whether the Soulbury officer has demonstrated that the criteria have been met; and may ask the officer s line manager for comments on the application. The NUT believes that it is not advisable for the Director or Chief Officer personally to take decisions on officers assessments. In such circumstances, doubt would exist as to whether, in practice, an appeals panel had the authority to overturn such decisions.
4 4 Soulbury officers should be notified in writing as soon as possible of the outcome of their individual assessment. Although there are no nationally prescribed time limits, the NUT advises that a period of one calendar month should be sufficient to complete an assessment and notify the officer of the outcome. The award of an additional SPA pay point should be backdated where necessary to the date of eligibility. The Local Government Employers (LGE) has advised local authorities that SPA assessments should normally be conducted at the end of the summer term with any resulting pay points being effective from the following 1 September. The LGE has further advised that where authorities already have established local appraisal arrangements with different timescales in the year, these could be used for the purpose of assessments with any variations being discussed locally with recognised trade union representatives. Avoiding Bureaucracy and Workload Many employers have adopted an appropriately relaxed and non-bureaucratic approach, avoiding time-consuming form-filling, production of evidence or other burdens. Authorities may, for example, ask for individually drafted applications by letter setting out briefly how officers meet the criteria. Alternatively, they may issue standardised forms for completion and return. In some cases, brief letters from officers setting out how they have met the criteria are deemed sufficient. Some local authorities, on the other hand, have adopted a more bureaucratic procedure. For example, some have required Soulbury officers to complete lengthy forms, attend meetings with assessment officers and provide portfolios of evidence that they have met the SPA criteria set out in the national agreement. The NUT opposes such an approach which is not specifically required by the national agreement. Many individual Soulbury-paid officers maintain their own professional portfolios for a variety of purposes, including supporting them in relation to individual performance management, the accreditation and acquisition of CPD, skills and qualifications and in relation to the DfES national professional standards. The NUT does not oppose the maintenance of professional portfolios in any way but advises that they are not required for SPA purposes. Applying the Criteria The requirement for officers to have made an exceptional contribution in order to secure the third SPA point is more demanding that those for SPA 1 and 2. Officers will be required to demonstrate a contribution going beyond that required for the achievement of the first and second SPA points. The NUT emphasises that this criterion is intended to constitute a standards-based and not a quota-based approach to SPA assessment and award of the third SPA point. The Soulbury Committee agreed that the criterion for SPA 3 is not based on any particular rationing or quota. This is reflected in the advice given in the Soulbury Joint Secretaries circular (JESC 144) to local authorities which states specifically that the criteria for award of a third SPA point are not based on any specific quota for its award. NUT Soulbury representatives should, accordingly, press employers to adopt a standardsbased approach when applying the criteria for SPA 3. Such an approach could mean, in theory, that all eligible Soulbury-paid officers might be assessed as having made an exceptional contribution and thus be awarded a third SPA point.
5 5 PAY PROGRESSION UNDER THE SPA SYSTEM As noted earlier, the SPA system provides Soulbury-paid officers who meet the nationally agreed requirements with the opportunity to receive up to three extra incremental points on top of their normal scales. This section sets out how additional SPA pay points operate in relation to officers individual pay scales; how SPA points have been awarded since the introduction of the SPA system; and issues of portability. SPA points and Individual Pay Scales The capacity to award up to three additional SPA points means that each officer s normal individual pay scale is in practice extended by up to three further points. The Soulbury pay spines incorporate additional points beyond the normal spine maxima in order to accommodate the award of SPA points to individual officers. SPA points are not scale extensions, requiring officers to have reached the top of their normal scales before the first SPA point can be awarded. SPA points can be awarded before officers have reached the top of their normal scale. In such cases, officers will receive the SPA point in addition to any normal incremental point due to them that year - in other words they will receive a double increment. Most Soulbury officers are, on appointment, placed on individual pay scales of not more than four consecutive points on the appropriate Soulbury pay spine. As they are also eligible to receive SPA points, their individual pay scales are as a consequence extended in practice to seven points in length. Educational psychologists on the main scale are paid on a ten point pay scale. This scale also has an extra four discretionary points beyond the normal scale maximum, allowing SPA points to be accommodated. EPs on the main scale are most likely to receive SPA points before they reach the maximum of their scale through normal incremental progression. They should be particularly careful to check that they are not denied any experience-based increments due. Once awarded, SPA points are, in effect, treated as normal incremental points. They become a permanent part of the officer s pay entitlement and cannot be taken away as long as the officer remains in that post. The Soulbury pay structure provides employers with the power to extend the normal four or ten point scales by up to two further discretionary points to recognise additional duties, performance or recruitment and retention considerations. SPA points are payable in addition to discretionary points. The possession of discretionary points does not preclude an application for an assessment. Soulbury officers already in receipt of discretionary pay points do not lose those points if they are awarded additional SPA pay points. Distribution of SPA Points The Soulbury Committee is pleased by the implementation of the SPA system to date. Results from the last Soulbury workforce survey conducted in spring 2004, which received responses from over half of authorities, indicate that the majority of Soulbury-paid officers have benefited from the additional pay progression available under the SPA system. This is confirmed by reports from Soulbury-paid NUT members. According to the 2004 Soulbury workforce survey, 60 per cent of advisers/inspectors, 59 per cent of educational psychologists and 40 per cent of youth officers had sufficient length of service to be eligible for SPA assessment and SPA pay points. Of those eligible, 85 per cent of
6 6 advisers/inspectors, 94 per cent of educational psychologists and 71 per cent of youth and community service officers had been awarded one or in the majority of cases both SPA points. Portability of SPA points There is no specific provision permitting the portability of SPA points when a Soulbury officer moves post. There is, however, evidence that many local authorities allow Soulbury officers to transport their existing SPA points if they move to another authority. This may happen by means of the authorities adopting the SPA assessments from the officers previous employment in another authority; or by appointing officers to higher scales which reflect and maintain previous pay progression secured through the SPA system. APPEALS ARRANGEMENTS Soulbury paid officers who are unsuccessful in the SPA assessment process have the right to an appeal at local level. These appeal arrangements must comply with the statutory requirements relating to workplace grievance procedures. There is, however, no right to a national appeal hearing in the event of an unsuccessful local appeal over a SPA assessment. Local authorities should already have internal appeals mechanisms in place for use by officers. The NUT believes that officers should have access to an appropriate appeals panel consisting of at least two appropriate representatives from the local authority, who may or may not be elected members but who were not involved in the original assessment. As noted above, the appeals panel must have full authority to overturn the original decision if appropriate. NUT Soulbury paid members who are dissatisfied with the assessment process or who wish to challenge the outcome of their assessment through an appeal should contact their NUT division secretary or their NUT regional office or NUT Cymru in Wales. National Union of Teachers July 2006
7 7 THE SOULBURY REPORT (THE SOULBURY COMMITTEE NATIONAL AGREEMENT) APPENDIX G STRUCTURED PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENTS 1. The Soulbury Committee has reached agreement to introduce local assessments to recognise the contribution of Soulbury Officers to the authority s role in raising standards in schools, improving involvement of young people in community activities and the promotion of child development and learning. This agreement provides a framework for local decisions relating to an assessment of the officer s contribution. 2. The Committee recognises that arrangements for the assessment of Soulbury Officers contributions will have been designed locally. The Committee does not want to introduce new arrangements but will consider providing an outline of good practice on local procedures if this is required. The Committee has agreed that all local procedures will need to provide for reviews in cases where officers believe they have grounds to challenge a local assessment. 3. The key aim is arrangements which provide for a structured assessment by the Director of Children s Services of the officer s contribution. Local arrangements will need to provide for: The opportunity for officers to apply to their Director of Children s Services after four years continuous Soulbury service with one or more local authorities. In normal circumstances, this would be after not less than two years in the current post. Directors of Children s Services can consider applications before the four years, in exceptional cases. A new local assessment will not be necessary where a local review has already taken place. Assessments will be based on the officer s contribution over the relevant period. Local assessments need to be based on the range of duties and responsibilities and achievements against targets and objectives for the post. This assessment of the overall contribution will need to take account of the following for the first level: - Development Officers must show that they are fully informed of the developments in their area of specialism. - Developing the services Officers must make a recognised contribution to the policy, planning and meeting of performance targets for their authority. - Improving standards Officers must make an identified contribution to the improvement and evaluation of service delivery across all appropriate aspects of the authority s functions. - Management and Administration Officers must manage and assess resources to provide efficient delivery of services. - Equal opportunities Officers must contribute to the development of the authority s policies in improving access to their services and in raising achievement levels for their local communities.
8 8 For the second level, officers contributions will need to be based on showing that they have made a sustained contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the service. To qualify for the award of the 3rd SPA point, officers will: - need to demonstrate that they have made an exceptional contribution to the development of the service over a sustained period, for instance in developing the Children s Services agenda in the authority; and - be involved in a programme of CPD focused on the requirements of the service and the aspirations of the officers for their own professional development. The award of a 3rd SPA point will not be made until at least 2 years after officers have achieved SPA point 2. Salary Rewards 4. Officers who have been assessed as achieving the first level will receive an additional pay point on the Soulbury spine. Those achieving the second level will receive a second point on the Soulbury spine. Those achieving the third level will receive a third point on the Soulbury spine. These additional points will extend normal scale maxima by up to three points.