IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The effects of teacher pay reforms on teacher pay, teacher careers and student attainment

This project examines the impact of School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) reform on teachers and students.

The study started Sept 2017 and will end Feb 2021. It is funded by Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC).


Delivering good education means attracting and incentivising good teachers to perform well and remain in the profession. 

In 2012 the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) recommended increased flexibility in determining teacher salaries and greater discretion in teacher recruitment and retention.

The reforms came into effect in 2013 for new teachers, and for all in 2014, and provided 'maintained' schools with powers to determine teacher pay.

Impact of the reform

This study examines the impact on schools, teachers and student attainment and assesses to what degree the reform can help recruit and retain teachers.

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.

Aims of the project
  1. Improve our understanding of how reforms to teacher pay have affected teacher pay and progression and average student outcomes, using descriptive and modelling techniques to identify:

    a. Effects on schools:

    - how school-level teacher pay and variation in pay evolved before and after the introduction of pay-reforms
    - which schools moved away from the old pay structure in response to the reforms and how they differ from schools that did not
    - how the pay reforms may have affected schools' ability to fill teacher vacancies. 

    b.    Effects on teachers - how the pay reforms may have affected:

    - teacher entry wages
    - teachers' wage progression
    - teacher retention and entry to the profession
    - teacher mobility within and across schools
    - whether the pay reforms are linked to changes in teacher characteristics through changes in those entering and leaving the profession.

    c.    Effects on students:

    - how the pay reforms may have affected average student attainment at the school level in the short-term.

  2. Influence policy formation and school pay setting behaviour through the dissemination of our findings.

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.


Building on this classification of schools we examine the impact of the pay reforms on:

  • schools' ability to fill teacher vacancies
  • 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.


Principal Investigator


Research Assistants

  • Natalie Quinn-Walker, Arden University
  • Aparna Tripathi, UCL Social Research Institute
  • Yiang Li, UCL Undergraduate student
Advisory group

The team is being supported by the following advisory group, with representatives from academia, the civil service and third sector organisations, as well as practitioners and policy makers:

  • Alasdair Cavalla – Department for Education
  • Ken Clark – University of Manchester
  • Peter Dolton – University of Sussex
  • Sara Ford – Association of School and College Leaders 
  • Francis Green – IOE
  • Rani Kaur – National Governance Association
  • Andrew Morris – National Education Union
  • Valentine Mulholland – National Association of Head Teachers
  • David Powell – National Education Union


  • NBER Education Programme Meeting, 2021
  • EALE SOLE AASLE World Conference, 2020
  • Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2020
  • Institute of Labor Economics, 2020
  • School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) Meeting, 2019.
  • Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2019
  • University of Newcastle Business School, 2019
  • Department of Social Science Seminar Series, 2019
  • Centre for Economic Performance, 2019


  • School Teachers Review Body Strategy Day, 2019