The Teacher Salary Boost is a targeted state subsidy intended to increase the appeal of the teaching profession and increase the quality of the school system and improve pupil results in the long term. The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has been commissioned by the Government to evaluate this subsidy until 2021. In this status report, we have primarily followed up on how the organisational bodies are using and distributing the state subsidy, and we have analysed the salary development of those teachers who have benefited from the Teacher Salary Boost in comparison to other teachers.
High level of participation but also risks with increased costs
The participation in the Teacher Salary Boost has been high ever since the state subsidy was introduced in 2016. In the funding year 2018/2019, all the municipalities and nine out of ten individual organisational school bodies were utilising the Teacher Salary Boost. The non-participating organisational bodies usually have few pupils. There is a relatively even distribution of allocated Teacher Salary Boost funds between different school forms and between different types of municipalities.
The state subsidy does not always cover the organisational body's cost of participation, including increased costs of pension contributions. Statskontoret's evaluation also shows that many organisational bodies and head teachers feel that the Teacher Salary Boost has not only increased the salaries of the teachers benefiting from the programme, but has also contributed to increasing the salaries of other teachers. At the same time, a majority of the organisational bodies either have not yet assessed whether they can handle the additional costs incurred, or they believe they will have difficulties managing them.
Teacher proficiency is a priority, but not the pupils' needs
The Teacher Salary Boost funds generally go to the same group of teachers each semester. They are primarily distributed when an employee who has previously received the salary supplement leaves their employment. The organisational bodies rarely amend the principles according to which they allocate these funds. Both organisational bodies and head teachers have been allocating the funds based on where the most skilled teachers are found, but it is just as common for them to distribute the state subsidy evenly between their school units.
The ordinance for the state subsidy sets four criteria to be used to distinguish especially qualified teachers. Organisational bodies and head teachers have continued to prioritise the criteria relating to the development of teaching through peer learning on a scientific basis and to the recipient having been in charge of complex teaching situations.
The ordinance also states that the municipalities must consider pupil needs and conditions when allocating school resources. At the same time, few organisational bodies say they distribute the Teacher Salary Boost according to pupil needs and conditions. Statskontoret also notes that the actual distribution of the Teacher Salary Boost between school units also indicates that these resources are still not being compensatorily allocated.
Teachers in the Teacher Salary Boost programme are not given priority in salary reviews
The Teacher Salary Boost is intended to raise the salary of those teachers who benefit from the programme, in addition to their regular salary review. The state subsidy must not, for example, influence the outcome of the salary review.. However, Statskontoret's salary development analyses show that teachers who have been granted a salary boost have had a slightly worse salary development than other teachers when the state subsidy is excluded.
There may be several explanations for this development. Statskontoret's evaluation indicates that teachers in the programme have not been prioritised in regular salary reviews, even though those receiving the state subsidy are supposed to be the most qualified teachers. On the other hand, it is more common in the salary reviews for the head teachers to prioritise the teachers who have not received a salary boost, but who they feel are qualified. The organisational bodies may, for example, have implemented special salary initiatives for the teachers who are not included in the reform, which to some extent is in line with the Government's signals.
Risk of the reform also having negative consequences
Statskontoret notes that the average salaries of teachers have been relatively largely increased in recent years. This may be beneficial to the appeal of the teaching profession and may contribute to more people wanting to become teachers. At the same time, there is a risk that the reform will also have negative consequences for the schools. This relates, for example, to the risk of the higher salary costs resulting in less resources for other school activities. It also relates to the risk of higher personnel turnover, especially among teachers who have not received the salary subsidy, leading to less continuity for the pupils. Such risks may counteract the possibilities of achieving the long-term quality and results objectives of the reform. We will examine, among other things, teachers' labour market mobility in Statskontoret's final report in 2021.