Commenting on the Education Secretary’s letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body for the 2022/23 pay round, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Teacher recruitment has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels and teacher shortages exist across the curriculum. The impact of previous failures to recruit and retain are still being felt, including the loss of the skills of experienced teachers. We need to recruit and retain teachers across the curriculum to build a high-skill, high-wage economy and we can only do so by significantly improving pay for all teachers.
“And teacher retention is a huge problem too - with a third of beginner teachers leaving in the first five years in the profession.
“In this context the Secretary of State's remit to the STRB is open but unclear.
“If he remains committed to implementing a £30,000 starting salary in two years' time, that is welcome. That will require an 8% pay rise on starting salaries in 2022 and a further 8% in 2023.
“But we also need a pay structure that helps keep teachers in the profession thereafter. The Secretary of State refers to 'significant, but sustainable, uplifts' for other teachers. The NEU believes that these percentage increases are needed for other teachers as well to begin the process of restoring the huge real-terms pay cuts since 2010.
“However, the Government has already effectively set a much worse remit for the STRB through the Treasury's evidence to the review bodies, which has been spun as a 'warning shot' to the STRB and the other review bodies not to recommend significant pay increases following the end of the public sector pay freeze. This is despite the huge real terms cuts to pay since 2010 and a pay freeze in 2021 when RPI inflation was at 4.9%. RPI is now at its highest for 30 years.
“The Government can afford to pay teachers properly and the country can't afford it not to.
“The STRB must act independently and not follow the Government's political choice to continue to hold down pay for teachers. Cuts to teacher pay damage education. The evidence is clear that cutting teacher pay against inflation has contributed to serious recruitment and retention problems as well as hitting teacher living standards. The STRB has already recognised that the competitiveness of teacher pay has been damaged. To have any credibility, the STRB must resist Government attempts to constrain it and must recommend a substantial pay increase for all teachers.
“We cannot allow teacher pay to continue to be cut in real terms and against other graduate professions. We must also see urgent action to reduce teacher workload. It's time to Value Educators and Value Education.”