Commenting on the National Foundation for Education Research’s new report on the teacher labour market, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The NFER is right to note that any improvement in teacher supply due to the pandemic will be short-lived. They are certainly not enough to compensate for the long period of missed recruitment targets and the increasing problems with teacher retention. Attacks on teacher pay contributed to those problems and the planned pay freeze will create new problems. 

The NFER is also right to highlight the adverse impact of the Government's planned pay freeze for teachers. The impact of the pay freeze is not just a "medium term problem" as described in the NFER report. The pay freeze will hit teachers hard in September 2021, when they will see their pay cut yet again in real terms.

As teacher pay is frozen in September 2021, inflation is expected to be higher and other graduate professionals will be getting pay increases.  The net result will be a significant teacher pay cut in real terms against inflation, combined with a growing gap between teacher pay and pay for other graduate professions. That is a recipe for more teacher recruitment and retention problems, when we are still living with the legacy of years of under-recruitment and significant losses of experienced teachers. 

One in four teachers work more than 60 hours per week and the pandemic has only made things worse. This is completely unacceptable, and it is one of the key reasons why one third of newly qualified teachers leave within five years. Over the last few years, the Government has made efforts to draw attention to ways of reducing workload, which the NEU has welcomed, but this report and others continue to show it is not working.  It is obvious to teachers and school leaders that successive education secretaries are failing to solve the problem. Government must face the fact that it is the culture of excessive accountability, brought on by the Department for Education and Ofsted, which acts as the main driver of workload.  Until the Government faces up to reality, workload will continue to increase, and greater numbers will continue to leave the profession”.