Teachers pay capped at 1%

Unions furious after pay cap of 1% recommended by review body

Published on 11th July 2017

Teachers in England and Wales will have their pay restricted to a 1% increase following recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body.

The pay cap, introduced in response to austerity measures, has been in place since 2010 initially at 0% and then 1%.

The pay review body highlighted how unions representing teachers and school leaders had said that an increase of more than 1% was required to counteract real-terms reductions in pay for teachers and to respond to pressures affecting recruitment and retention.

They also stated that this pay uplift should be applied uniformly to the salaries and allowances received by all teachers.

“The number of qualified teachers leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement has continued to rise, and teacher retention rates have deteriorated, including for those with two to five years’ service. The number of schools reporting teacher vacancies and temporarily-filled posts has also increased markedly over the last five years,” said the STRB.

“The cumulative impact of these factors creates a real risk that schools will not be able to recruit and retain a workforce of high quality teachers to support pupil achievement. We are particularly concerned about this because demographic trends indicate rising pupil numbers and therefore rising demand for teachers in the coming years,” it added.

‘The Department should review the current national pay and allowance framework’

However, it stated that their analyses of school finances show that schools are working under increasing financial constraints and between now and 2020, many schools will face both real-terms reductions in the level of per-pupil funding and growing cost pressures.

“School leaders and governing bodies will face a range of financial challenges over this Spending Review period, and it is clear that some schools will find it challenging to implement any pay uplift at all,” said the review body.

The review body said that economic uncertainty means that it is difficult to predict the future state of the labour market, however, further uplifts of more than 1% will be required to elements of the pay framework in the coming years to make pay more competitive for teachers at all stages of their careers.

Accordingly, the Department for Education should help school leaders and governing bodies in the effective management of pay within their budgets.

“The Secretary of State told us in her oral representations that one of her priorities was to strengthen teaching as a graduate profession. As part of this, the Department should review the current national pay and allowance framework for classroom teachers. The STRB would welcome the opportunity to contribute to such a review as part of a future remit,” the review body concluded.

‘Teachers continue to be paid less than other graduate professionals’

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that the announcement was a “missed opportunity” which the government will come to regret as the teacher recruitment and retention crisis worsens.

He highlighted that teachers’ pay increases have fallen behind inflation by 13% since 2010 while the public sector pay policy has been applied and following this latest announcement, that figure will increase to over 15%. The pay being offered to newly qualified teachers would be over £3500 higher if the pay cap had never been applied and schools would have far fewer difficulties in recruiting new graduates.

“The government’s attack on national pay scales and its pursuit of performance related pay at a time of funding cuts in schools has meant that teachers are increasingly unlikely to get pay progression either. The result is that the government’s own figures show that average pay for classroom teachers has only gone up by £300 – less than 1% – since 2010.

“The School Teachers’ Review Body has told the government that teachers continue to be paid less than other graduate professionals throughout their careers and that the pressures faced by schools in attracting high quality teachers have not reduced. It has also said that there needs to be a longer-term investment in an effective teaching workforce. This clearly supports the NUT’s argument that the government needs to invest in more and better paid school staff,” he added.


Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary of teaching union the NASUWT, said: “The situation on teachers’ pay, after year on year cuts, is now so dire that even though the Review Body was forced to conduct its deliberations under unacceptable pressure from the DfE and the Treasury to maintain the pay cap, it has not been deterred from doing what it can, and has broken through the cap, at least for some of the lowest paid teachers, awarding them 2%. For that it should be congratulated.

“The Review Body clearly continues to be deeply concerned and, while maintaining the 1% cap for other teachers, once again it has warned the government that new and more experienced teachers continue to be paid less than other graduate professions making it difficult to recruit and retain high quality graduates as teachers.

“Everyone except the government appears to accept that there is a crisis in teacher supply. A crisis which will continue to deepen while the pay cap and cuts continue, while schools use the excessive freedoms and flexibilities, given to them by the government, to deny teachers even 1% and while teachers are crushed by excessive workload.

“It is disgraceful that, despite all the evidence of the detriment teachers, delivering one of the most vital of our public services, are suffering, the government determines to maintain the pay cap,” she added.

Full-blown recruitment crisis

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was disappointing that teachers had been forced to wait for the outcome of the review due to the general election period of purdah.

“Even more disappointing, however, is that these pay awards have been once again kept within the government’s self-imposed 1% pay cap. This means teachers are facing a seventh year of real-terms pay cuts at a time when we are in a full-blown recruitment crisis. The STRB acknowledges that there is ‘a real risk that schools will not be able to recruit and retain a workforce of high quality teachers to support pupil achievement’. Furthermore, schools are expected to fund these awards without any additional funding from the government, and this comes at a time when budgets are under severe strain because of real-terms reductions,” said Mr Barton.

“The current situation is unsustainable and the government is playing fast and loose with children’s education. We call on ministers to invest more in the education of our pupils, and thereby our future prosperity, by ensuring that pay awards are fully funded and help address the issue of teacher shortages,” he concluded.


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