Exclusive: Greening calls for 'competitive' teachers' pay to improve recruitment

Education secretary also uses Tes interview to reveal manifesto pledge on student loan forgiveness for teachers will go ahead

Martin George

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Justine Greening has called for teachers’ pay to “remain competitive” as she warned that risks to recruitment and retention “need to be taken seriously”.

The education secretary used an exclusive interview with Tes to give her broadest hint yet that she wants next year’s pay award to be higher than the 1 per cent she allowed this year – which amounted a real-terms cut once inflation is taken into account.

The pay-review body that made the 1 per cent recommendation, in line with its mandate from government, warned of “a real risk” that schools would not be able to recruit and retain high-quality teachers.

Ms Greening told Tes “those are risks that need to be taken seriously”.

This week’s lifting of the public sector pay cap had been widely anticipated, and for those looking for indications of what that could mean for teachers, Ms Greening had a positive message.

“I think it is important that teachers’ pay remains competitive. I think that’s part of how we make sure we have a really successful teaching profession,” she said.

“I don’t think there is one thing that we need to change to make sure that we have a successful teaching profession that great people want to come into and then stay, but I agree that having competitive pay is part of that and that is something that I know across government is being taken seriously.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said her comments “certainly sound reassuring” after seven years of pay erosion.

Ms Greening also revealed a Conservative manifesto commitment that has survived the government’s loss of its Commons majority: to “offer forgiveness on student-loan repayments while they are teaching”.

She said she will be bringing forward proposals about this “shortly”.

This is an edited article from the 15 September edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full interview with Justine Greening here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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