The Government is on a fresh collision course with teaching unions after confirming it is pressing ahead with plans to link pay to performance in the classroom.
Under the changes, teachers will no longer receive automatic annual pay rises, but will get annual appraisals with schools deciding on salary levels. Education Secretary Michael Gove said the move will give schools greater freedom over teachers' pay, and help them recruit the best staff.
Leading teaching unions condemned the plans, arguing they will further lower teacher morale and lead to unfairness. The proposals, put forward by the School Teachers Review Body (STRB), are effectively an almost complete deregulation of teachers' pay and a move away from national pay structures.
In a letter to Dame Patricia Hodgson, confirming that the Government is accepting the plans, Mr Gove said: "I am clear that these changes will give schools greater freedom to develop pay policies that are tailored to their school's needs and circumstances and to reward their teachers in line with their performance."
Teaching unions have previously vowed to campaign against any attempt to remove national pay structures, suggesting that such a move would cut teachers' salaries and leave some schools, especially those in deprived areas, struggling to recruit good staff.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "Teachers will be dismayed that Michael Gove is pressing ahead with his plans to dismantle the national teacher pay structure. It will certainly worsen teacher morale which, as shown in a recent YouGov survey commissioned by the NUT, is already low.
"Some 25,000 schools deciding their own pay structures is a real distraction from the teaching and learning that should be the focus of schools' work. Individual pay decisions will result in unfairness and less mobility in the teacher job market."
Ms Blower added: "At a time of significant funding pressure on schools, individual pay decisions will result in many teachers having their pay and career progression unjustifiably blocked. Contrary to Department for Education claims, there is no evidence that linking pay to performance increases results."
The changes, which will be introduced this September, cover pay for classroom teachers in England and Wales, and do not include school leaders such as headteachers and deputy or assistant heads.
Mr Gove said: "These recommendations will make teaching a more attractive career and a more rewarding job. They will give schools greater flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best teachers. It is vital that teachers can be paid more without having to leave the classroom. This will be particularly important to schools in the most disadvantaged areas as it will empower them to attract and recruit the best teachers."