Teachers to receive 3.5% pay rise as public sector cap lifted, government announces

'It is regrettable that the Department for Education has had to find money from down the back of the sofa as it will affect other services'

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 24 July 2018 12:03
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Teachers to receive 3.5% pay rise as public sector cap lifted, government announces

Teachers in England will receive a pay rise of up to 3.5 per cent from September, the government has announced.

The deal will be funded by the Department for Education (DfE) with a new teachers’ pay grant – worth £508m over two years – rather than from the Treasury.

Classroom teachers on the main pay range will get 3.5 per cent, while higher-paid teachers will get 2 per cent and school leaders will receive 1.5 per cent.

Ministers did not follow the recommendation from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which advises the government over pay, for an across-the-board pay rise.

Classroom teachers will receive a cash-terms salary increase of between £800 and £1,366 a year, the government has said.

The DfE has assumed stretched schools have budgeted for a 1 per cent rise, and said it will fund the difference from elsewhere in the department.

The announcement has prompted fears that cuts could be made to the overall education budget to find the cash for the rises.

But the DfE said the extra funding – of £187m in 2018-19 and £321m in 2019-20 – will come from resources that are not currently being used.

Education unions have been calling for a government-funded 5 per cent pay rise for teachers after years of real-terms cuts.

Today’s announcement lifts the 1 per cent pay cap on teachers’ salaries, which has been in place since 2013, following a two-year freeze on wages first introduced in 2010.

Luke Sibieta, a research fellow for the IFS, said a 3.5 per cent pay rise for teachers on the main pay range would help with recruitment and retention for teachers early on in their career.

But he added: "About 60 per cent of teachers will receive below-inflation awards of 2 per cent, or in the case of school leaders 1.5 per cent.”

On the pay deal – which was announced on the last day of term for schools – the education secretary, Damian Hinds, said: “This will mean that teaching continues to be a competitively rewarded career, and I will continue to work with the profession, Ofsted and the unions on issues like excessive workload, professional development and flexible working, to make sure teaching remains an attractive, fulfilling profession.”

He added: “There are no great schools without great teachers and I want us to recruit and retain brilliant teachers who are fairly rewarded for the vital work they do.”

A new pay deal for the NHS – a 6.5 per cent increase for nurses, paramedics and porters over three years – was announced in March.

This prompted members of Britain’s largest teaching union – the National Education Union – to threaten to take strike action if teachers were not awarded a 5 per cent fully-funded pay rise.

School leaders had also warned that an unfunded pay rise would have increased the funding pressures on schools, making some effectively insolvent.

A joint statement from three education unions on Tuesday welcomed the pay award – but they raised concerns that the deal was not fully funded and not across-the-board.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The DfE and the secretary of state deserve credit for an improved pay award and a commitment to providing extra funding.

“However, it is deeply unfair that the pay award for leaders and for teachers on the upper pay range will be funded at a lower rate and they will regard this decision as a kick in the teeth for their hard work.

He added: “It is also regrettable that the pay award is only partially funded and that the DfE has had to find that money from down the back of the departmental sofa as this will impact on other education services.

“This is clearly a short-term political solution driven by the refusal of the Treasury to fund the pay award and we need longer-term strategic thinking from the government as a whole.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, added: “This will do little to retain valued and experienced senior teachers and leaders. Our members will feel let down by the government.”

Russell Hobby, chief executive of education charity Teach First, said: “Great teachers are absolutely crucial to the future of our country and they must be fairly rewarded for the impact they make each and every day on the next generation.

“We welcome the government starting to address the gap between teacher starting pay and other professions, but this should not come at a cost to existing essential education budgets."

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “The pay review body warned that schools are struggling to recruit and retain teachers in leadership roles, and the government have chosen to give these very teachers another real terms pay cut for the eighth year in a row.

“There is still no information about what areas of funding will be cut to meet the cost of the pay rise. It is time for Ministers to be honest with school leaders and others about where the money will come from.”

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