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Evaluation of state subsidies for the boosting of teachers’ salaries – Lärarlönelyftet Interim Report 1 (2017:21)

The Swedish Government has tasked the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) to conduct a follow-up, analysis and evaluation of the state subsidies for elevated salaries for teachers and certain other staff categories which introduced on 1 July 2016. This is the first of three reports for the assignment.

In this interim report, we have examined the extent to which the school authorities have participated in the initiative, how they allocated the state subsidy, and how the school authorities prioritised between the criteria in the regulation governing the initiative. We have also investigated the extent to which the compensation to the school authorities covers their costs of participating in the boosting of teachers’ salaries. We have also analysed the results that the school authorities and headteachers perceive that the initiative has led to, one year after it has been introduced.

A high level of participation in the initiative

As much as 90 percent of the school authorities have elected to participate in the teachers’ salaries boost scheme, and it can be noted that almost all of the school authorities have utilised over 90 percent of the subsidy they have been granted. This means that an important basic prerequisite for achieving the objective of the initiative, to stimulate and encourage school authorities to provide higher pay to specially qualified teachers, should be able to be achieved.

Our analysis shows that it is primarily school authorities with few schools and individual/independent schools that have chosen not to participate in the teachers’ salaries boost scheme.

Distribution to the most skilled of the teachers

In their distribution of the boost to teachers’ salaries, both the school authorities and headteachers have chosen to reward the most skilled teachers.

When they have assessed which teachers will receive benefits from the initiative, the headteachers have based their decisions on the criteria in the State Subsidy Regulation which governs the teachers’ salaries boost. Just over one-quarter of the school authorities and just under one-half of the headteachers report that they have prioritised between the criteria. The criterion that most have prioritised is that the teacher should have taken special responsibility for developing the teaching via collegial learning based on a scientific foundation.

The state subsidy has been allocated to women to a slightly greater degree than to men. In general, the distribution of funds in the scheme reflects the teaching profession relatively well, for example in regards to the distribution between those who work in primary schools and those in upper secondary schools.

Rarely allocated according to the needs of students

The regulation that governs the boost to teachers’ salaries scheme states that the teachers’ salaries boost is to be allocated to the most qualified teachers, but that the school authorities should also take into account the needs of the students and their personal situation. Statskontoret’s investigation shows that only 6 percent of the school authorities report that they have taken students’ needs and personal circumstances into account in their allocation of the teachers’ salaries boost.

The headteachers have compensated for this to some extent in their allocations at the individual school level. Approximately 10 percent of the headteachers report that they have prioritised teachers who are working with students who have special needs.

Over the long term, the state subsidy will not cover the costs incurred by the school authorities

The analysis Statskontoret has produced shows that over the short term, the state subsidy covers the largest part of the increased costs that the school authorities incur as a result implementing the teachers’ salaries boost scheme. The costs for the school authorities are gradually increasing subsequently, primarily a consequence of that a larger group of teachers go over the threshold for occupational retirement pensions. These are costs that are not covered by the government grants. The school authorities also state that administrative costs have increased as a result of the teachers’ salaries boost scheme. Statskontoret has not investigated the amounts of these. Statskontoret estimates that for 2018, the school authorities will need to inject resources corresponding to approximately 4 percent of the teachers’ salaries boost. This corresponds to SEK 121 million. And from 2019, that the share of the costs not financed by the state subsidy will increase to 7.5 percent, which corresponds to SEK 224 million annually, according to Statskontoret’s calculations.

The Teacher’s Salary Boost has certain preconditions to contribute to the objectives of the initiative

How the school authorities choose to implement the teachers’ salaries boost will have significance in regards to the extent to which the objective of the initiative will be able to be achieved. There are good preconditions for raising the salary levels and the attractiveness of the teaching profession. On the other hand however, there are fewer prerequisites for achieving the objective that more teachers should apply to teach at schools with major challenges or that the initiative will lead to a change in teaching/working methods.

Statskontoret’s analysis of the efforts to implement the initiative has shown that the teachers’ salaries boost has led to higher average salaries for teachers. The higher salary levels could lead to an increase in the attractiveness of the teaching profession over the long term. During the first year, headteachers and school authorities report that the initiative has contributed to the fact that many teachers have received higher salaries than they would otherwise have received. But they have also seen that the initiative has contributed to a situation where teachers have chosen to change employers because they are dissatisfied with their salary.

Approximately 40 percent of the school authorities, and more than half of the public school authorities, have chosen to introduce the initiative as a permanent salary increase/supplement. This is a positive impact in order to attain the Swedish Government’s objective that the selected teachers will have long-term salary growth over and above to their regular salary levels.

One objective of the initiative is that more experienced teachers would seek out teaching in schools with major challenges. But the school authorities have not allocated any significant part of the funds for the initiative to these schools. Therefore, Statskontoret therefore makes the assessment that the prerequisites and conditions for the initiative to have such effects are lacking.

Statskontoret’s investigation also shows that the teachers’ salaries boost has had a significant impact on school activities only to an exceptionally small extent, for example in terms of changes in the organisation or teaching/working methods. Therefore, our assessment is that there are quite minimal prerequisites in place for the teachers’ salaries boost to contribute to the improve the quality of teaching, knowledge outcomes, or school activities in general.