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Judges vs teachers: same problems, different pay

Both are public sector professions with morale and recruitment problems, but judges' percentage pay rise could be more than 20 times that of many teachers

teachers v Judges

Both are public sector professions with morale and recruitment problems, but judges' percentage pay rise could be more than 20 times that of many teachers

Teachers will feel a "deepening sense of injustice" if judges receive a 32 per cent pay pay rise, a teaching union has warned.

That is because most teachers have not even received a pay rise that is above inflation, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

While those on the main pay scale received 3.5 per cent, school leaders and teachers on the upper pay scale have received 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

That is as much as 20 times less than the pay rise proposed for judges by the government-commissioned Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB). But is the level of morale or the crisis of recruitment any different for judges?



The proposed judges’ pay rise is linked to falling morale caused by a combination of long and stressful hours and a series of tax changes to pension schemes for high earners, says a report by the SSRB.


Teachers’ low morale is the result of the government’s “relentless cycle of reforms and accountability pressures, which are factors which have helped to create a crisis in recruitment and retention”, according to ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton.

Meanwhile, Tes research shows that two-fifths of teachers would go overseas next term if the right job came up.

And, unlike judges, about 2,000 headteachers took to the streets of Westminster last month armed with figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a respected thinktank, which show that school budgets have been slashed by 8 per cent in real terms since 2010 – as well as Department for Education figures showing that pupil numbers in state schools have increased by 537,885 during that time.



The proposed judges’ pay rise is also said to be linked to a recruitment crisis, with a sharp fall recorded in the number of people applying to join the bench.


Figures from the Education Policy Institute thinktank show that 50 per cent of teachers are leaving the profession within five years of qualifying, and that teacher-training applications are down by about 5 per cent compared with the same time in 2017, while training targets in maths and science are being “persistently missed”.

Worse still, Tes research reveals that 47,000 extra secondary teachers will be needed by 2024 just to keep pace with a forecast explosion in pupils numbers. Union leaders have described the shortfall as “eye-watering” and “potentially catastrophic”.

The solution


The SSRB has recommended that High Court judges receive a pay hike that would take their salaries from £181,500 to £240,000 – an increase of almost £60,000 per year, equating to more than an extra £1,100 per week. 


The DfE has already awarded teachers pay rises of between £1,184 and £1,366 per annum, while salaries for new teachers have increase by between £802 and £1,003.

According to the IFS, this means most teachers (60 per cent) will receive a real-terms pay cut

And in awarding the pay deal, the DfE ignored another of the government's review bodies, the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which recommended a 3.5 per cent hike for all teachers and leaders. This is the first time in 27 years that the STRB has been ignored by the government.

What’s next?


The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the recommendation of the SSRB was received by Theresa May and justice secretary David Gauke at the end of September.

However, officials said no decisions had been taken as to whether to accept its recommendations.


The NEU teachers' union said it would hold an indicative ballot on strike action over pay pending the outcome of the chancellor’s budget at the end of this month.

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