A 12% pay increase from September

Written by: Dr Patrick Roach | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Investing in teachers is investing in pupils’ education, but the proposals over teachers’ pay risk driving more experienced teachers from the chalkface, says Dr Patrick Roach

For years, even during periods of pay restraint, workload has perennially been cited by teachers as their top issue of concern.

However, the cumulative impact of 12 years of below-inflation pay awards, a global pandemic, and the worst cost-of-living crisis for 50 years has brought the issue of teachers’ pay to the forefront of the profession’s concerns.

As the teachers’ pay review bodies in England and Wales begin their deliberations, we have called for a substantial multi-year pay award for all teachers and school leaders from this year.

There is irrefutable evidence that uncompetitive pay levels are contributing to a worsening picture on teacher supply and succession, driven in tandem by excessive workloads and working hours.

Indeed, there is a compelling case to be made for a programme of pay restoration. Due to successive years of pay freezes and below inflation pay awards, teachers have now suffered a 19% real-terms erosion in their pay since 2010 (based on what pay would have been if it had grown in line with inflation).

We are therefore seeking a multi-year pay award, starting with a 12% pay increase awarded from 2022.

Tackling burn-out and improving morale

The government has continuously failed to meet its own targets on ITT recruitment; there is a growing crisis of leadership succession and increasing numbers of teachers leaving the profession.

Official workforce data shows that by 2020, more than 40% of those who had entered the teaching profession 10 years previously were no longer teaching (DfE, 2021).

The NASUWT’s 2022 teachers’ pay survey indicates that 70% of teachers have considered leaving their job in the last 12 months and that 49% of teachers indicated that their pay had a great deal or a lot of impact on their intention to leave the profession.

Continually expecting teachers to do more and more at the same time as their salaries dwindle in real-terms year after year is simply unsustainable as an approach to managing teacher supply and ensuring higher standards of pupil progress and attainment.

Retention must be a priority, too

While we support an uplift to starting salaries in order to encourage more new recruits to the profession, this should not and cannot be at the expense of ensuring more experienced teachers are also recognised and rewarded for the absolutely vital role they play in the profession. Nor can it ignore the impact which tackling excessive workloads and working hours plays in recruitment and retention.

The proposals from the Department for Education (DfE, 2022) to the School Teachers’ Review Body in England risk taking for granted the commitment of experienced teachers.

The proposal to cap the pay awards of more experienced teachers at 2-3% in order to fund £30,000 starting salaries for new teachers will go down badly with a profession that has worked so hard for so long and who have been rewarded with so little.

This short-termism by ministers will only fail to ensure we have the teachers we need, both now and in the future. We need investment in the pay of all teachers and measures to make teaching a truly attractive career.

A competitive pay framework which recognises and rewards teachers’ experience is essential, coupled with working conditions which support teachers to focus on teaching and on leading and managing teaching and learning.

Investing in teachers is investing in pupils’ education. Failing to invest in our teachers is short-changing children’s futures.

The NASUWT is campaigning for a better deal for teachers – a better deal on pay, workload and wellbeing. We recognise that teachers are a precious resource that should never be taken for granted. It is time for the government to step up and value our teachers too.

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