Government favours decent rise in teachers’ salaries

13 Apr

On 18 September 2019, Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, wrote to Dr Patricia Rice, the Chair of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), signalling the need to support the recruitment and retention of teachers and ensure that the substantial increase in school/academy funding announced by the government is invested as effectively as possible.  This was to include a significant uplift in the starting salary of classroom teachers.

Following on from this, it set out the government’s intention to increase starting salaries to £30,000 nationally by September 2022. The letter made a strong case for schools and academies to move “towards a less steep pay progression structure compared to what is currently typical in the early years of a teacher’s career, with lower average percentage increases between each pay point on the main pay range, alongside significantly higher starting and early career salaries”.

The document was by way of the Secretary of State’s evidence to support the STRB’s consideration of the 2020 pay award for teachers, headteachers and other teachers in leadership positions.

The DfE paper highlighted the extensive evidence that significant uplifts to starting and early career teacher salaries were needed, alongside a less steep pay progression structure compared to what is currently typical in the early years of a teacher’s career with lower average percentage increases from one pay point to the next on the main pay range. This would address the challenges of recruiting and retaining teachers, especially the good ones and “support improved educational outcomes”. It will also move the pay system into closer alignment with international comparators.

Were these recommendations to be implemented, it would lead to a pay award of 3% increase in the total teacher pay bill. This would be in line with forecast growth in average earnings and constitute the decent, sustained uplift to the teacher pay ranges – the first since 2005. This would also allow for a significantly larger than 3% increases in starting and early career pay, addressing our most pressing recruitment and retention challenges.

In those pre-pandemic times, the DfE pointed out that its proposals meant above-inflation increases of 2.5% to the upper pay range and leadership pay ranges, “supporting an attractive career path for the whole profession. A pay award of this size will also allow schools to invest fully in other important resources and activities, alongside pay, which will also support improved outcomes for pupils”.

Were the DfE recommendations to be implemented, it would mean that the pay structure would see starting salaries rise nationally to £26,000 in 2020/21 and £27,200 (London fringe), £30,000 (Outer London) and £32,000 (Inner London). The upper and leadership pay ranges would see significant, above-inflation increases of 2.5%. All three of the possible approaches outlined would see above-inflation increases for teachers on the upper and leadership pay ranges.  New starters would not overtake those already in the profession and teachers would continue to earn more as they progress up the pay ranges.

By 2022/23, the government wants the starting salaries of teachers increased to £30,000 nationally – higher in the London areas – with real increases for both, senior teachers and teachers in leadership positions. The DfE is of the view that its “analysis suggests such a structure could see over 1,000 extra teachers retained per year, alongside additional recruitment”.

It will be interesting to see how matters pan out following the outbreak of coronavirus Covid-19.

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