One in five teachers denied cost-of-living pay rise

Teachers’ pay being cut due to lack of annual pay rises and performance related pay progression, according to an NEU survey

Helen Ward

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Teachers’ pay is being cut as schools fail to award cost of living increases - as well as denying teachers pay progression, the National Education Union says.

One in five (21 per cent) teachers have been told they will not receive a cost-of-living pay rise from September this year, and a further 30 per cent are still waiting to hear, according to the union’s annual national pay survey.

The survey of more than 12,000 teachers found that, five years after the Government introduced performance related pay (PRP) for all teachers, 14 per cent of teachers eligible for pay progression on their pay scale were denied it this year and a further 25 per cent have not yet been told whether they will get a rise.

More than 90 per cent of those denied progression were not told during the year that they were not meeting the standards needed to progress, despite Government guidance that this should happen.

And although the vast majority (88 per cent) thought the decision to deny them progression was unfair, only one in five (22 per cent) are challenging the decision, with many saying that they have already been told not to bother appealing.

Although nearly a third (30 per cent) of those denied progression were told this was because they had not met pupil progress objectives, 17 per cent were told it was due to budgetary reasons, despite Government guidance that funding should not be a factor.

The survey results are almost identical to last year’s survey – when 21 per cent of teachers had been told they would not get a pay progression rise and 15 per cent of those turned down were told this was due to budgetary constraints.

“The government has created chaos on teachers’ pay which is contributing to the crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers,” Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said.

“Schools are in a difficult position because many are struggling to make ends meet. But denying teachers a pay rise simply drives them away from teaching.

“The government needs to heed the repeated warnings from the School Teachers’ Review Body that pay restraint is affecting recruitment and retention.

“It needs to accept the NEU’s arguments, end the public sector pay cap and fully fund a pay increase for all teachers to begin to restore teachers’ pay to competitive levels. It needs to reintroduce national pay scales for teachers to replace the chaos. If the Government fails to act, more schools will struggle to recruit and retain teachers and children’s education will suffer.”

The survey also asked teachers whether they think they are paid a fair salary for their job compared to other workers. Nearly 80 per cent said that they think they are paid less than they are worth, with 29 per cent of them thinking they are paid significantly less than they are worth.

A secondary teacher from the North East said: “My husband and I, teachers with three school aged children, are really struggling to cover our living costs and are considering selling our property and moving into cheaper accommodation because our salaries have not stayed in line with inflation”.

And in Kent, one primary teacher, said: “The cost of living has increased, but my pay has not so my standard of living is deteriorating significantly to the point where I am now in receipt of universal credit to cover the bills”.

The survey comes after Education Support Partnership revealed that it is helping a growing number of teachers on the verge of homelessness.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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