Emerging teacher pay gap threatens to ‘worsen recruitment crisis’

Pay increases for teachers in England have fallen behind the majority of other professions over the last six years, a new report has found.

The emerging pay gap threatens to worsen the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, the NASUWT union has claimed.

A report by Incomes Data Research (IDR), commissioned by the union, found teachers have not had significant real-terms pay increase since before the recession.

Any increases given to teachers also trailed those handed to staff in other professions such as engineers, scientists and health professionals, the report found.

The recruitment crisis will worsen

Chris Keates (pictured above), general secretary of the NASUWT, said the stark differences in teacher pay “will unfortunately mean this [teacher recruitment and retention] crisis will worsen”.

“Since 2010, there have been relentless attacks on teachers,” she said. “Year on year cuts to teachers’ pay, workload spiralling out of control, deprofessionalisation, demoralisation and denigration.

“Resignations are up, applications to teach are down.

“Children and young people are being short changed by this government as they cannot receive their entitlement to high quality education when talented teachers are leaving and potential recruits can find jobs in other graduate occupations which recognise and better reward their talents.”

The report found the average whole economy pay award was 2 per cent in each of 2011, 2012 and 2013, 2.5 per cent in 2014, and 2.2 per cent for 2015.

Meanwhile, teachers received no general salary increase in either 2011 or 2012, and only 1 per cent in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015, the report stated.

IDR analysis also found that the average starting salary for comparable graduate professions is at least 15 per cent higher than the national M1 starting point for a qualified teacher.

Across the teaching profession, the report shows that in 2015 average gross earnings for all comparator professions was 20.2 per cent above those of secondary school teachers, and 32.4 per cent ahead of average earnings for primary school teachers.

Education secretary Justine Greening said last October that there was a “strong case” for a continued 1 per cent cap on teacher pay in 2017-18, which the government later warned would cost schools an extra £250 million.

Greening said there should be no expectation that all teachers would get the rise. Instead schools could choose the staff to get a boost, which could be based on performance.

But Keates added: “Only the government appears to be in denial about the scale of the problem, probably because it recognises that the root cause of the crisis is the adverse impact of its policies on the school workforce.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Teaching remains an attractive career, with more people entering the profession than leaving it. We are spending £1.3 billion up to 2020 to continue to attract the best and the brightest into teaching, including generous bursaries and scholarships.

“We have also given headteachers the freedom over teacher pay, including the ability to pay good teachers more. This is in contrast to the old system which awarded teachers pay rises simply for time served, regardless of whether or not they were doing a good job.”


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  1. I did hope some two years ago that the government would take note of the comprehensive evidence base indicating a recruitment crisis. They could simply have their head in the sand but unfortunately even the most modest of intelligence couldn’t ignore the evidence now. They are hell bent on driving down wages over time. At the same time they are importing vast numbers of foreign teachers (as they will nurses) to offset our shortfall and run up class sizes until the voters squeal. A pay freeze to 2020,unrealistic expectations, outrageous workload and retirement prospects of a turkey at Christmas and you’d have to be severely misinformed about the medium and long term prospects of teaching, to want to go into it. As for having a family life you can forget it. If anyone wishes to disagree with anything I have said, please feel free to join the teaching workforce. If your real lucky you’ll get the one or two places left that are a pleasure to work in. Much of the rest will have you jumping through pointless hoops that add nothing the impact of teaching. In fact the mantra of weighing the pig every two weeks (marking for impact) means that there is no energy left for improving teaching practice or indeed a life. God I love the classroom and hate the muppets that haven’t a clue about working conditions.
    Still what’s education? Just the glue that hold a civilised society together.

  2. jJoseph Dunn

    Once again the issue of teacher pay becomes front and centre in the UK.It is now very apparent that few people in government are listening and the profession keeps spiralling out of control.The irony of it all is that the powers that be keep scratching their heads and wonder why there is a shortage of teachers yet give themselves large rises.The UK teachers are an amazing bunch of people because no other sector of society would tolerate this nonsense.I left the country years ago and taught abroad because I saw this noble profession being treated very poorly.I pray that society stands up and demands a proper pay structure for all teachers who do one of the most important jobs in British society but I am not holding my breath.

  3. A noble profession indeed, and there are some outstanding teachers out there that do a fantastic job. But there are far too many that take it as a given that they should get a rise each year, that they should somehow climb the payscale as a matter of course, even if they don’t actually meet the standards. That needs to change first, and then maybe they can shout from the rooftops at how wonderful they are and how deserving of more pay. Many have never left the education bubble and if they did they might understand that its not all bad.. and before you slate my comments, I have children in all sectors of education so have dealt with many many teachers over the past 20 years, I work in the sector myself and have an in depth understanding of how things work and of school budgets…