The education secretary has asked the body responsible for advising on teacher pay to make recommendations for the next two years at the same time, as part of a move to raise starting salaries to £30,000.
In his remit letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body, Nadhim Zahawi said he wanted to achieve a “significant uplift” to starting salaries, an early career pay offer that “better reflects the challenges experienced in those first few years”.
He also said the £30,000 starting salary pledge should be achieved alongside “significant, but sustainable, uplifts to the pay of more experienced teachers”.
The government pledged in 2019 to raise starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022-23. However, the target was pushed back to the end of this Parliament after last year’s spending review froze pay for all public sector workers earning more than £24,000 a year.
The STRB is normally given a remit to make recommendations on pay one year at a time.
But Zahawi told the body to make recommendations for both 2022-23 and 2023-24 to “help support delivery, and to give schools the opportunity to better plan their budgets as we make the uplifts required to reach £30,000”.
However, the letter does not explicitly state that the £30,000 pledge will be reached by 2023-24, the year it would have to be implemented to meet the government’s revised target.
The government has previously indicated its desire to move to a “flatter” pay structure as it enacts its manifesto pledge on starting salaries.
Zahawi told the STRB he wanted their recommendations to include an “assessment of the adjustments that should be made to the salary and allowance ranges for classroom teachers, unqualified teachers and school leaders to promote recruitment and retention”.
Rises must be within ‘bounds of affordability’
This should be “within the bounds of affordability across the school system as a whole and in the light of my views on the need for an uplift to starting salaries to £30,000.”
It comes after Schools Week revealed last month that future pay rises over the next three years will have to be met from additional core schools funding announced at this year’s spending review.
In his remit letter, Zahawi said it was “right that additional investment in the core schools’ budget is in part used to invest in teachers, with investment targeted as effectively as possible to address recruitment and retention challenges and, ultimately, ensure the
best outcomes for pupils”.
But he added that the STRB must “ensure that the affordability of a pay award is taken into consideration to ensure schools are able to continue to invest appropriately in a range of resources and activities that will best support their staff and pupils”.
It comes after Department for Education data showed the Covid-related boom in teacher recruitment has already started to crash. The government missed its secondary teacher recruitment target this year, having beaten it in 2020.
Zahawi said a “significant uplift” to starting salaries would ensure teaching is “a competitive and attractive graduate option, alongside creating an early career pay offer that better reflects the challenges experienced in those first few years”.
This should be achieved alongside “significant, but sustainable, uplifts to the pay of more experienced teachers, but still with the aim of moving towards a relatively flatter pay progression structure”.