Schools staff crisis looms as austerity hits teachers’ pay

The admission comes in the Department for Education’s official submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations on pay deals. It states that pay is also lower than it was 15 years ago in real terms. “From 2002-03 to 2017-18, classroom teacher median salaries have seen a drop of 10% and overall teacher median salaries of 11% in real terms,” it says. It argues that the fall was smaller than that suffered by private sector graduates.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We welcome the DfE’s admission that teachers’ pay has fallen so far in real terms. It is no good Damian Hinds trying to argue that this is the same for private sector jobs – those figures reflect the many graduates forced into low-paid, part-time, semi-casual jobs, whereas we are talking about the pay rates being offered to those joining a profession.”

The number of secondary school pupils is forecast to rise by 15% during the next decade. However, the government missed its recruitment targets for trainees for the past six years, with the biggest shortfalls in key subjects like maths, modern foreign languages and physics. Ministers have responded with a series of measures designed to ease the pressures with job shares, more support for new staff and a reduction in paperwork.

James Zuccollo, from the Education Policy Institute, said “The government’s new bursary scheme for early-career teachers may help to tackle acute retention problems in shortage subjects and disadvantaged parts of the country. But, unless it is applied immediately to existing teachers, it is likely to be a few years before we see any improvements to exit rates.”

School leaders have been angered by a suggestion last week that they will have to fund this year’s pay increase from their existing budget, without extra help from the government. A note from the department warned: “A pay increase for teachers of 2%, in line with forecast inflation, is affordable within the overall funding available to schools for 2019 to 2020, without placing further pressure on school budgets.”