Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that he had to freeze teachers' pay in order to save jobs.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Sunak was challenged over only awarding a pay rise to NHS workers and not extending this to teachers and other workers in the public sector.
Yesterday, the chancellor said public sector pay would be “paused” next year, apart from for doctors and nurses, and those earning less than £24,000.
Mr Sunak was asked whether teachers had also shown the "courage, wisdom, kindness" he had described in his spending review speech yesterday, in working in classrooms with pupils potentially infected with the coronavirus.
"You say those words but you don't reward them," the interviewer said.
"I want to protect as many teachers' jobs as I can'
Mr Sunak said: "I think you’re trying to confuse two things. This is about protecting people’s jobs and what I want to do is protect as many teachers’ jobs as I can and make sure we can keep putting more teachers into classrooms, which is exactly what we are doing, making progress towards our goal of the starting salary being £30,000, which is also what we’re doing over time.
"And we’re seeing that record numbers of people are applying to be teachers, the numbers significantly up now over last year, [and] £2.2 billion more for schools, meaning every pupil in this country will see a 2 per cent, at a minimum, rise in funding next year, as well as getting on with rebuilding and refurbishing 500 schools over the next decade with a long-term settlement of capital there. We’re also investing in skills.
"Education’s really important to me and I want to make sure we can make all of those investments and protect teachers’ jobs, and taking this approach to pay, I think, is reasonable and proportionate, given the circumstances."