[Skip to content]

NAHT - For Leaders, For Learners
Search our Site

Reviewing your school’s staffing structure



Many members will remember the ‘review of staffing structures’ one-off exercise which was required by legislation (now revoked) back in 2005/2006 (England and Wales). This exercise was conducted on the back of the cessation of management allowances and the introduction of TLRs. Obviously no staffing structure will remain relevant indefinitely; the school’s priorities may change or key staff may leave and you may feel the need to review radically the school’s staffing structure again.

This guidance focuses on a major re-structuring exercise and the process you may wish to follow. In some instances, however the changes will be less significant, or minor. In these circumstances, schools may restrict consultation to a short timeframe or just to those directly affected by any proposed changes.  

The guidance should be read against the backdrop of the statutory ‘professional responsibilities[1]’ of the posts involved, the criterion and factors for the award of a TLR[2], and any relevant standards, e.g., teachers’ standards(England) and practising teacher standards (Wales)[3]. You may also find the NAHT guidance on what can reasonably be expected of a classroom teacher without a TLR of particular assistance, which is available from our web site at www.naht.org.uk.



1.       The full governing body should delegate decision-making powers on a new staffing structure to a small committee of governors, e.g. three governors, since it may prove difficult to reach agreement on a staffing structure if the full governing body is involved. (It is also prudent to ensure that there remain a number of “untainted” governors, in the event of the lodging of an appeal or grievance.) You may have a staffing/personnel committee already in place which could provide this function. This committee will be advised by the head teacher. This should be minuted at a meeting of the full governing body.

2.       It is sensible to hold a meeting of all staff to explain the context of the review and the proposed timetable for consultation and implementation.

3.       The committee, advised by the head teacher, will arrive at a new staffing structure that should be relevant to the circumstances and priorities of the school, and should be able to take the school forward. It is obviously not sensible to review the staffing structure at frequent intervals since this will cause disruption and possible distress to staff.

4.       The committee, advised by the head, should write outline job descriptions (“JD”). For consultation purposes, the JDs should set out the major responsibilities for each post only since the detailed JD will be a matter for discussion with the person who takes up the post.  However, it should be clear from any JD why a specific post attracts a particular level of salary. For example, you may have one post which attracts a TLR2 at the minimum value, whereas another post may attract a TLR2 of a higher value. It should be immediately apparent to anyone looking at the proposed staffing structure/JDs as to why the latter job warrants the higher level TLR. (NB: if your structure includes differing levels of TLR, there must be a £1500 minimum differential between posts in either the TLR 1 or TLR 2 band.)

5.       Once the proposed staffing structure is finalised, the committee should formally consult with staff and trade union representatives within the school. The consultation period should last for a fixed period, of not more than four working weeks. Although the head teacher may be meeting with staff and their union representatives during that consultation period, it is sensible to ask for written comments also, to be submitted to the committee/head teacher by the end of the consultation period. This enables the committee to consider carefully all comments and suggestions.

6.       The consultation documents to be sent to all staff and union representatives as part of the consultation process include: the proposed staffing structure; JDs with key responsibilities (see 3 above); proposed implementation date, and plan, of the new structure.

7.       Thought will need to be given to slotting in/ring-fencing. If a post in the new structure is a close job match (80% plus) to a post in the old structure, then if there was only one member of staff who occupied the post in the old structure they will need to be slotted in or there is the potential for an unfair dismissal claim. (A review of the staffing structure should not be an excuse to deal with any issues of capability, which should be addressed through the school’s capability procedure.) Should a post in the new structure comprise 50% each of two posts in the old structure, in the first instance the new post should be ring-fenced to the members of staff concerned and an internal recruitment exercise should be conducted. Where there is a completely new post created, it should be advertised internally and an interview and selection process should be conducted.

Leadership group: schools will sometimes seek to delete deputy head teacher posts in the staffing structure and replace with assistant head teacher posts or TLR posts. This may well be a dismissal on grounds of redundancy since the school is effectively saying they require less employees to undertake work of a particular kind, i.e. deputy headship. Members should, in any event, think carefully about deleting deputy head teacher posts. NAHT has a policy position which states that all schools should have a deputy head teacher post, for two reasons in particular. Firstly, it is only a deputy head that can be required under their contract to undertake the head’s duties in the head’s absence. In addition, it is only a deputy who can exclude a pupil, or advise the relevant body whether a teacher at the school who applies to be paid on the upper pay range should be paid on that range, in the head’s absence. No other staff member is able to do so.[4]

8.       At the end of the consultation process, the committee and the head teacher should consider all responses received and decide on the final new staffing structure. Although any consultation process should be genuine and open, it should be noted that consultation does not mean negotiation. The latter requires agreement to be reached, the former does not. There is no requirement to re-consult, even where changes are made to the original consultation proposals.

9.       The new staffing structure should be reported to the full governing body. This does not mean that the full governing body should attempt to make changes to the structure since the full governing body delegated its decision-making powers to the committee.

10.   Should there be less employees required to undertake work of a particular kind, e.g. classroom teachers, teaching assistants, leadership group members, this is likely to be a redundancy and the school will be required to follow a fair procedure. Please consult with your personnel adviser and refer to your redundancy policy. Further advice on redundancy is available from the NAHT web site.

11.   Should there be any change in terms and conditions, e.g. a change of contract in terms of hours/days, this may well be a dismissal and re-engagement (or possibly a redundancy), if you cannot reach mutual agreement with the staff member(s) concerned. It is imperative to seek advice from your LA/personnel/legal provider.

12.   Should a teacher lose, or suffer a diminution in their TLR or SEN allowance, safeguarding will apply in maintained schools and schools which have incorporated the STPCD into teachers’ contracts.  The STPCD sets out the safeguarding provisions.

This advice is only intended as a general guide and obviously cannot deal with specific scenarios. It is therefore important for schools to take advice from their LA/personnel provider.


Further assistance can be accessed from the Specialist Advice team:

email specialistadvice@naht.org.uk or

telephone 0300 30 30 333.

[1] Part 6, section 2, STPCD 2013

[2] Paragraphs 24 of section 2, STPCD 2013

[3] Annex 1, section 2 STPCD 2013

[4] Paragraph 46.1, section 2, STPCD 2013



Page Reviewed: 06/11/2014