STRB urges review of pay in light of rising rolls and market pressure

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A review of the teachers’ pay framework should be undertaken in light of increasing demand for teachers and increasing pressures within the jobs market.

The suggestion has been made by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which has highlighted the “widening” gap between the pay of teachers and other graduates in “many areas of the country”.

The 24th Report of the STRB, published last week, recommended a one per cent pay rise be applied across the board for teachers in 2014/15 (see below for more).

However, while the Department for Education (DfE) says that the teacher labour market remained strong, within the document, the STRB warns that there are “emerging concerns” about teacher recruitment and retention.

It states: “Our own analysis showed that, while some indicators suggest recruitment and retention has remained stable in a generally subdued labour market, there are some emerging areas of concern.

“These include competitive pressures in many areas of the country, where the gap between pay of teachers and other graduates is widening in respect of both starting pay and profession-wide pay. 

“As the wider economy recovers, demand from other sectors is likely to accentuate recruitment and retention pressures, including existing shortages in sciences and maths specialists.”

The STRB also warns that the increasing numbers of pupils expected to enter the education system in the coming years will also take its toll.

As many as 256,000 new school places are needed by September, and the STRB projects that pupil numbers in nursery and primary schools will increase by eight per cent between 2013 and 2017. Pupil numbers in secondary schools will then begin to increase from 2015 as the children filter through the system, it says.

The report adds: “Emerging labour market pressures will coincide with a significant impending increase in demand for teachers, as increased numbers of pupils flow through the school system. Together these will accentuate the importance of ensuring the profession can attract and retain sufficient high-calibre graduates.

“There is a real challenge for the sector in preserving the attractiveness of teaching as a preferred profession for good graduates.

“This challenging context points to a need for a fuller review of the teachers’ pay framework as soon as government priorities permit to ensure the profession remains attractive. We would welcome a remit to undertake such a review.”  

Pay rise leaves teachers worse off, unions claim

Education unions have attacked a below inflation pay rise as a worsening of real-terms pay and conditions – although the recommendation to apply the one per cent uplift to all teachers has been welcomed. 

The 24th Report of the STRB, published last week, recommended the one per cent pay rise be applied across the board for all teachers in 2014/15.

It means the minima and maxima of all the pay ranges in the national pay framework, including the national teaching and learning responsibility and SEN ranges will rise one per cent.

However, this September will see the first pay awards under the new performance-related pay system, meaning schools will not have to deliver the one per cent to all teaching staff.

The STRB has recommended that the Department for Education (DfE) applies the one per cent uplift to the discretionary performance-related pay reference points in its official advice to schools.

It also stresses that any schools not using these discretionary reference points within their performance-pay policies should “consider how to apply the one per cent uplift ... to their local pay policy”.

Education minister Michael Gove in his evidence to the STRB had said applying the uplift to the discretionary pay points would undermine schools’ autonomy. However, he has now accepted the STRB’s recommendations subject to public consultation.

However, the STRB has recommended that the reference points be removed from DfE advice next year to “signal clearly that schools should, from September 2015, make performance-related progression decisions in accordance with local arrangements”.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers, said that the across-the-board award “distinguishes cost of living awards, which apply to all, from performance increments”. He added: “Clearly, one per cent is a below inflationary increase which will worsen teachers’ pay and conditions, but the principle of equal application is important.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said that they expect all schools to give all their teaching staff the one per cent “at minimum” from September and that “there are no excuses to fail to do so”.

She added: “The one per cent recommended increase is well below the current rate of inflation and also falls behind rises in both average earnings (up 1.7 per cent) and pay rises in the private sector (running at 2.5 per cent). As it is, in real terms teachers’ pay has fallen by at least 12 per cent since 2010.”

The National Union of Teachers and NASUWT slammed the rise as “inadequate” and an “assault on pay” respectively.

NASUWT chief Chris Keates added: “As a result of the coalition government’s public sector pay policy of freeze and cap, teachers have lost thousands of pounds since 2011. A recently appointed teacher is over £2,500 worse off, a teacher with six years’ experience is over £3,500 worse off, and more experienced teachers are nearly £4,500 worse off.”

The DfE has said there is no additional funding for schools to cover the 2014 pay award and the STRB recognises that its recommendations will be “challenging” as a result. It said: “We recognise that implementation of these recommendations will be challenging for some schools, including the need to review pay policies in time for the 2014/15 appraisal year. We underline the need for schools to be supported through the provision of benchmarking data and advice from the DfE on progression expectations. Against this background, we re-iterate the need for governing bodies to secure good-quality, independent HR advice and maintain effective oversight of performance appraisal and pay decisions.”

 


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