Pupils in affluent areas 'get lower grades because of teachers' pay' deals

National salary scales mean some schools cannot attract quality staff, say researchers

Pupils in the most affluent areas of the country get lower GCSE grades because their state schools cannot attract enough top quality teachers, a study says today.

Researchers from Bristol University claim that national teacher pay scales have "a negative impact on pupil learning" that equates, in some high cost of living areas, to every pupil dropping a grade in one of their GCSEs. The findings will rekindle the row between Education Secretary Michael Gove and teachers' leaders over the proposed abolition of national bargaining in favour of regional pay.

Teachers' unions have warned of industrial action if there is any attempt to move away from national pay scales – on the grounds the reforms are likely to lead to wage cuts for teachers in deprived inner city areas, where the cost of living is lower. The School Teachers' Review Body, an independent body appointed by the Government that reviews pay, is due to report next month. Strikes by teachers could follow if it backs regional pay and its findings are accepted by ministers.

The research by Bristol University, for the Economic and Social Research Council, warned that the current pay system "can cause difficulties in recruitment and retention [in high cost of living areas], especially of high quality workers. High ability teachers might decide to leave the profession, move within the profession to a region where their relative wage is higher or be deterred from entering teaching in the first place."

The researchers, who studied data from 200,000 teachers in 3,000 state schools, looked at pupils' results in national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds and compared them with their GCSE results. They found that those in areas with a lower cost of living had more "value added" – a bigger improvement in grades than expected.

Schools "add less value" in areas where there are more career options other than teaching, the report says. The difference in the pass rate was the equivalent to pupils dropping one GCSE grade for every 10 per cent increase in the average salary levels for the region. The research also showed that average wage levels in inner London were 30 per cent higher than in the north-east of England.

By contrast, the difference in teachers' salaries was only 9 per cent. The study is likely to be seized upon by Mr Gove as he seeks a radical overhaul of teachers' pay. So far any progress towards a more flexible structure has been modest, despite academies and free schools being granted the freedom to negotiate their own pay rates. Most have been reluctant to change.

Liberal Democrats have voiced concerns that a regional pay structure could hamper recruitment in disadvantaged communities. However, if the pay review body were to suggest scrapping a centralised pay structure, it would revive interest in the idea.

The Department for Education said: "We have asked the School Teachers' Review Body to consider how teachers' pay arrangements might be made more market-facing. The STRB are currently in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and we look forward to hearing their recommendations in the autumn."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association for School and College Leaders, doubted the conclusions of the study: "A lot of research has been done about regional pay and nobody was able to find any evidence that regional pay would apply to teachers in this way."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor