Justine Greening has asked the School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations for teacher’s salaries, to consider a “more flexible approach to public sector pay” – repeating calls already made by the Treasury after the 1 per cent cap was lifted.
In a letter to Dr Patricia Rice, the chair of the STRB, Greening said the body should consider how pay awards for teachers should “utilise the flexibility within the government’s pay policy”.
Such a change is needed to tackle a shortage of skills and help productivity across the public sector, she said. It follows intense pressure on the government to lift the cap on pay rises for teachers, which has been in place since 2011.
Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, wrote to Rice in September to say the body would be allowed to recommend an average pay rise of more than 1 per cent.
Greening’s letter reaffirms that position. In particular, the education secretary said the STRB should “carefully consider” the pay for teachers in the early years of their careers, to make sure “high quality” trainees enter the profession.
She also instructed the body to consider how further pay adjustments can “support” a clear career pathway for teachers as it is an area her team is “currently developing”, according to her letter.
The other things the STRB should consider before making its recommendations include the state of teacher supply in the country, the need to ensure teachers are “affordable” and future changes in the pupil population.
It should also consider the fact the government wants headteachers and governors to have more freedom to develop their own pay arrangements.
The STRB must give its pay recommendations by early May next year, Greening concluded.
However, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the STRB was “once again being impossibly constrained.”
He said the body was still “straight-jacketed by an overall one per cent budget, and although this in not a cap as such, the budget effectively creates a cap.”
Whiteman added the remit for the STRB was a missed opportunity for the government to tackle the recruitment crisis by improving pay for teachers.