New chair appointed to teachers’ pay body as controversial pay freeze looms

Unions have called on the government to formally publish the STRB's pay recommendation for teachers

A new chair will take over the School Teachers’ Review Body from September, amid controversy over the upcoming public sector pay freeze.

The STRB advises the prime minister and education secretary on teachers’ pay and responsibilities in England, but unions have recently accused the government of undermining its independence.

Dr Patricia Rice, a senior research fellow in labour economics at the University of Oxford, will stand down as chair in September after seven years in the role.

It is understood she is leaving as members typically serve no longer than two three-year terms, though her second term was extended by a year because of the pandemic.

The government confirmed it had appointed Dr Mike Aldred as chair, who will work for around 30 days a year in the £350-a-day role.

Aldred previously worked in HR for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore and London, including introducing long-term “hybrid office-remote working” as managing director of group HR, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has also worked at Barclays and PwC.

The DfE also named Claire Tunbridge and Mark Cornelius as new members of the board, who will work 25 days of the year for £300 a day. The three will serve for three years from 1 September, alongside re-appointed members Harriet Kemp and Dr Andrew Waller.

The DfE, which sponsors the body, did not provide further details about the new recruits.

The announcements come ahead of the publication of the STRB’s 31st report by current members on 2021-22 pay awards.

The report will be overshadowed by the government’s public sector pay freeze for workers earning over £24,000, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak last November.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson wrote to Rice in December saying the government “will not be seeking a recommendation from STRB for pay uplifts for the majority of teachers” as a result.

He said allowing a pay hike would widen a pay gap between public and private sector workers, and a freeze would “allow us to protect public sector jobs and investment in public services”. 

The government will “reassess” its position for the 2022-23 pay round, and progression pay and allowances are unaffected this year.

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, called the effort to limit the remit of the STRB “an unacceptable attack on the independence of the pay body and on the transparency of the process of determining teachers’ pay”.

Other school staff union leaders have called for the STRB to say what it would have recommended if the pay freeze were not in place.

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  1. Peter Endersby

    I don’t see the point of the School Teachers’ Review Body if the government has it on such a short leash, it would be cheaper to just have some faceless civil servant

  2. Leon Myers

    The report will be overshadowed by the government’s public sector pay freeze for workers earning over £24,000, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak last November.

    Just going through the motions.