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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

Gillian Keegan calls for lower teacher pay rise this year

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The Department for Education has told the School Teachers Review Body that teacher pay awards should return to a "more sustainable level" compared to the previous two years.

Schools will be expected to raise overall spending by up to 1.2 per cent, based on DfE analysis of school budgets. Any pay rise is expected to be in the region of between 1 and 2 per cent, which will alarm teachers' unions who have already raised concerns that education ministers are seeking to "constrain" the STRB in its recommendations.

The DfE has also called for the STRB to explore the possibility of paying teachers of STEM subjects more compared to teachers of other subjects.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

"The wider economic context has moderated"

The DfE has published its evidence to the STRB today, pointing out that teachers' average pay had risen by over 12 per cent in the past two years. Unlike previous years, it has not set a specific increase it wishes to see.

In its evidence, the department claimed that the pay rises of 5 per cent (for most teachers) in 2022 and 6.5 per cent in 2023 were “appropriate and the right decision to reward teachers and leaders for their hard work, to support recruitment and retention, and to continue to make teaching an attractive career”.

As a consequence, the DfE stated that the pay award for 2024-25 should “achieve a careful balance between recognising the vital importance of public sector workers, while delivering value for the taxpayer and not increasing the country’s debt further”.

The wider context on teacher pay

However, the DfE's evidence failed to note that teacher pay growth in England between 2010 and 2020 was an international outlier: the lowest of the OECD countries.

Percentage change in average real-terms primary teacher pay compared to 2010 level (NFER)

Furthermore, real-terms pay for the most experienced teachers was cut by 14 per cent between 2010 and 2023, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Real-terms changes over time in teacher salary points (IFS)

"Targeted remuneration by subject"

The DfE has also instructed the STRB to give its views on the “potential benefits, in principle, of targeting remuneration by subject in the future” - in other words, to pay teachers of some subjects more than others.

The rationale, according to the department, is to "alleviate subject specific recruitment and retention challenges and bridge the gap between teacher pay and outside graduate earnings”.


Do teacher shortages mean teachers have more power than ever to negotiate better pay, terms and conditions?

Listen back on demand to Brent Poland and Adam Spence as they discuss this question, and more, on Education Tonight here.

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