Education secretary Damian Hinds has followed the launch of the Government’s high-profile recruitment and retention strategy with a recommendation for a two per cent ‘pay cap’ on teachers’ pay.

The Department for Education’s submission, last Thursday, to the School Teacher [pay] Review Body has been described as ‘disgraceful’ by Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers.

Hinds told the review body to give ‘careful consideration’ to whether pay rises recommended for 2019-20 are ‘affordable across the school system’ and to tell him how they have ensured that due consideration has been given to affordability. Hinds said he believed schools would be able to afford a two per cent pay uplift.

Whiteman said: ‘Affordability should not be part of the STRB’s remit. It is an independent body and should not have its deliberations influenced in this way before they have even begun. The review body is charged with arriving at an evidence-based view in order to make recommendations on the salary and allowance ranges for teachers and school leaders, so that pay is competitive. Following years of caps damaging to public sector pay, it is disgraceful for the government to impose another one.’

Whiteman’s union has joined others in making a claim for a five per cent pay increase for all teachers and school leaders.

Last year Hinds overruled the STRB recommendations and imposed a differentiated pay settlement, which meant a pay cut in real terms for all but the least experienced teachers.

At the beginning of last week he launched the Government’s recruitment and retention strategy, which was widely welcomed. But on the day he sent his submission to the STRB, the National Education Union (NEU) published the results of a survey of 34,000 teachers that found seven out of ten are thinking of leaving the profession due to poor levels of pay or the performance-related pay (PRP) system. An overwhelming majority feel underpaid compared with contemporaries in other graduate professions. Four fifths believe their pay is less or significantly less than they should expect, given their job weight, role and responsibilities.

Speaking about the survey results, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: ‘In the interests of teachers, parents and children, the Government must now take heed and act. PRP is not suitable for schools – it promotes unfairness and inequality and makes pay determination costlier and more bureaucratic. The Government’s proposed two per cent increase would be yet another real-terms pay cut and yet more fuel for the teacher supply crisis.’

She added: ‘Alongside a fully-funded increase of five per cent for every teacher, we need a national, fair and transparent framework for teacher pay.’

Government STRB submission: https://tinyurl.com/y7q7sm34

NEU pay survey report: https://tinyurl.com/y9k6q27r

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