Dwindling teacher pay puts children at risk, says union chief

Dwindling teacher pay puts children at risk, says union chief

New teachers are paid 20 per cent less than the average graduate starting salary – and the widening pay gap is risking children’s education, a union has warned.

A report by Incomes Data Services (IDS), commissioned by NASUWT and reviewing teacher salaries, shows that since 2010 the pay gap between teachers and graduates at other major recruiters has increased. In 2013 the average starting salary for graduates was almost 20 per cent higher than the national M1 starting point for a qualified teacher.

Published today (Monday, January 12), the report says that after three years this leads to a 44 per cent pay difference and after five years, 73 per cent.

The union believes this could mean fewer graduates opt to train as teachers in STEM subjects, such as maths, chemistry and physics.

However, Professor Alan Smithers of the Centre for Education and Employment Research,  said: “I am surprised at the figures. Ever since the Blunkett reforms, teachers’ salaries have been pretty good. It is sometimes very tricky to compare in terms of the occupations.

“Maths and physics are quite impersonal subjects, whereas when teaching you are with 25/30 other human beings, so by and large teaching is much more attractive for people in the humanities.

“Teaching isn’t particularly attractive to those in [STEM]. There aren’t enough science graduates to go around. There is great demand elsewhere and that demand is reflected in their starting salaries.

He added that a growing gap would make recruitment more difficult but “it’s not the most important thing about a job, particularly being a teacher.”

Remarking on the findings, Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “Teaching has moved from being the number one choice for graduates in 2010 to one now where graduates are increasingly looking to other higher paid professions.

“There is already a recruitment and retention crisis in the Education Service. The stark differences in graduate pay highlighted in our research will unfortunately mean this crisis will worsen.

“Children and young people are entitled to be taught by qualified teachers who are recognised and rewarded as highly-skilled professionals.

“The widening pay gap between teaching and other graduate professions is putting children’s entitlement to a high-quality education at risk.”

As previously reported in Schools Week, the government missed its recruitment targets for trainee teachers in 2014 by 7 per cent – with some subjects, such as design technology and social studies, only recruiting half the required number of teachers.