Ministers condemned for ignoring teacher pay report

Union analysis finds this is the first time in at least a decade that DfE has not accepted STRB pay award recommendation in full

Martin George

pay, teachers, dfe, peter dolton, hinds, strb

Ministers have been condemned for ignoring teacher pay recommendations, by a former government pay adviser.

The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) called for all teachers to receive a 3.5 per cent rise, but the DfE instead announced last week that those on the upper pay range and school leaders would get 2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

Now, a former STRB member has criticised the decision. Peter Dolton, an economics professor who has sat on government pay review bodies for teachers, doctors and dentists, and the armed forces, described the DfE’s choice as “a matter for real regret”.

He said: “My personal view is if you have an independent body that you appoint in an objective and fair way to make recommendations then really you should take their recommendations.”

Asked if the government’s decision not to fully implement the STRB’s recommendation undermined the process for setting teachers’ pay, Mr Dolton said: “The teachers will see what their recommendations are and if the government departs from them then in some sense they should still have faith in the process, if not the government’s implementation of that process.”

An analysis by the NEU teaching union found that this was the first time since at least 2008 that the government has failed to fully implement the panel’s recommendations on pay awards.

Valentine Mulholland, head of policy at the NAHT headteachers' union, described the decision not to implement the full recommendation as “extraordinary”.

She said this was particularly so “when the STRB’s recommendation made very clear that they haven’t chosen to differentiate, that they are clear that we can’t rob Peter to pay Paul in this arrangement, and there’s a [recruitment and retention] challenge across the three categories of teachers and leaders”.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said his union was “picking up a lot of anger from upper-spine teachers about the way the DfE has treated them”.

He added: “The government didn’t accept the independent body’s advice in its entirety, and we don’t have a fully-funded pay rise. This means the campaign goes on.”

The DfE has not published its reasons for departing from the STRB’s recommendation.

But when questioned by Tes about his decision to give senior staff and leaders a real-terms pay cut, education secretary Damian Hinds said: “There is a fiscal consideration to make and we make these decisions across government. The pay cap has gone but we are still in a financially constrained position.”

This is an edited article from the 3 August edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click 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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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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