The DfE's suggestion that teachers pay rise should be limited to 2 per cent pay rise because that is what is "affordable nationally" has been branded "disgraceful" and "derisory" by unions.
The NAHT headteachers' union said that many teachers had received a real terms pay cut last year, and that "further depressions to pay" would undermine the government's recruitment strategy.
In evidence submitted by Damian Hinds today to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), the education secretary said: “On affordability, the evidence sets out the importance of ensuring that the pay award does not place undue pressure on school budgets, with a 2 per cent increase in per teacher pay being affordable nationally, in the context of the cost pressures faced by schools and headroom available for increases in teachers’ pay.
“The evidence makes clear that uplifts to the statutory salary and allowance ranges also need to be considered in relation to other areas where schools may wish to invest (such as school improvement, teacher continuing professional development, pastoral support and teaching resources).”
Mr Hinds' submission also warns that the government may not provide any additional funding to cover this year’s pay award.
Responding to the DfE's evidence, Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT, 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 in the context of the wider labour market in England."
Mr Whiteman went on: “Following years of caps damaging to public sector pay, it is disgraceful for the government to impose another one, this time of 2 per cent.
"It should be remembered that the government’s decision to make a differentiated pay settlement last year, delivered a pay cut in real terms for all but a third of teachers, including the most experienced staff and leaders.
“Further depressions to pay will undermine the success of the government’s own recruitment and retention strategy which was widely welcomed at the beginning of the week."
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “A 2 per cent increase would be derisory. It would be yet another real-terms pay cut and would further fuel the teacher supply crisis."
According to an NEU survey of almost 34,000 teachers, that 70 per cent are already considering leaving the profession due to poor levels of pay.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described the education secretary's submission as "extremely disappointing".
The NAHT, NEU and ASCL have called for a 5 per cent increase in teacher pay.