The Secretary of State for Education has ignored most of the STRB report.

Whilst he has made some steps in the right direction he must now commit to implementing the STRB report in full and the Treasury must commit to funding it in full. Otherwise they are putting at risk our children’s education.

What did the STRB say? 

The independent School Teachers’ Review Body was set up by the Government to advise on teacher pay in the context of teacher recruitment and retention and of affordability.

The STRB has been warning about growing problems of teacher shortages in recent years, with increasingly alarming warnings about the poor supply of teachers and its effects on the quality of education.

This year they said: “For September 2018, we recommend that ALL pay and allowance ranges for teachers and school leaders are uplifted by 3.5%.”

The fact of them making this recommendation despite the Government messages to them about affordability tells us that they think the problem of teacher supply is acute.

But despite these warnings Damian Hinds has chosen to ignore more than he accepted.

He says he will make increases of:

  • 3.5% to the main pay range.

But only:

  • 2% to the upper pay range and to allowances.

And only:

  • 1.5% to the leadership pay ranges.

It is positive that main scale teachers will now get a 3.5% pay rise - and that most of that will be funded by a new teacher pay grant to schools. 

This is recycled DfE money (probably from the underspent School Improvement Funds) but it will now be in schools’ base funding as the Government plans the Comprehensive Spending Review.

And it is pressure from the National Education Union working with others that forced the recognition that schools would have to have this extra support.

However, astonishingly the Secretary of State is ignoring the STRB’s recommendations for the 43% of teachers on the upper pay spine and the 14% on the leadership spine. He is also ignoring the recommendation that TLR payments should increase by 3.5%.

The STRB's arguments 

It’s not as if the STRB didn’t present him with convincing arguments about the poor state of teacher supply for him to use with the Treasury.

They said their recommendations were based on their analysis that (with my emphasis):

“The maintenance of an effective workforce of teachers and school leaders in England and Wales requires a large number of good graduates across a range of subjects to be attracted to join the profession each year, and for most of these to choose to make teaching their career. In recent years, maintaining teacher supply has become MORE difficult. Last year saw a FURTHER deterioration in BOTH recruitment AND retention.”


“The Government’s overall target for recruitment to postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) was MISSED in 2017/18 for a sixth successive year. The indications from interim UCAS data on applications suggest that the situation in 2018/19 will be NO BETTER.”


“The numbers of vacancies and temporarily filled posts in schools and of teachers resigning from the profession have also continued to INCREASE.”

Trends are concerning:

“These trends are particularly concerning as demand for teachers is expected to rise considerably over the next decade, particularly in secondary schools, as a result of increases in pupil numbers.”


“Several of our consultees raised concerns about the ability to attract teachers into leadership roles. This aligns with what we have heard on our visits to schools around the country, as few classroom teachers tell us they aspire to become senior leaders, and most assistant and deputy heads we speak to do not wish to become head teachers.”

In conclusion

It is simply astonishing that the Secretary of State hasn’t accepted the STRBs well-reasoned recommendations. He and the Treasury are playing the age old game of divide and rule. We won’t be divided.

Main Spine teachers know they will soon be Upper Spine teachers. Some Upper Spine teachers are due to become Leadership. All of them are affected by inflation and measure the workload of the job against the reward it brings. They all deserve at least the 3.5% recommendation of the STRB. Let’s not forget that the majority of teacher unions including National Education Union, ASCL and NAHT all told the STRB that we thought a 5% rise was needed.

An unforeseen and potentially destabilising consequence of these differential increases is that the top of the main spine in Inner London is now higher than the lowest point on the Upper Spine in Outer London - where recruitment difficulties are worst.

So from the National Education Union we say:

  • The Secretary of State should implement the STRB report in full; increasing upper spine, leadership spine and TLR allowances by at least 3.5% as well as main spine.
  • And the Treasury should fund this in full, and commit to filling the more than £2bn gap that has grown in school funding over recent years.

The National Education Union and its members, along with allies in other unions and parental campaign groups, will continue to put the pressure on. Teacher recruitment and retention and school funding are vital for our children’s education.

We will consult with our National Executive in the autumn term about the best next steps to take.

We will also be working in the meantime to ensure that every school academy or local authority do implement these increases.

- Written by Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of National Education Union.