Primary teachers have seen their average weekly pay go down in cash terms during the last seven years of austerity, and secondary teachers have seen theirs rise by just £2.30, according to a Tes analysis of official data.
The figures – condemned by union leaders as "pitiful" – are particularly shocking because they are based on cash values and have not been adjusted for inflation. When rising prices are factored in, the situation is bleaker still for teachers, who have been subjected to nearly a decade of public sector pay restraint.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, in 2010, the average weekly gross pay of UK secondary teachers was £666.20. In 2016, it was £668.50 – a cash rise of only £2.30.
But things were even worse for primary and nursery teachers, who saw their average pay fall by £12.70 from £599.40 a week in 2010 to £586.70 in 2016.
These changes took place over a period when cumulative RPI inflation was 17.6 per cent.
While the average figures are likely to have been partly influenced by changes to the composition of the teaching workforce, union leaders blamed the government’s public sector pay cap for the “shocking” findings.
State-school teachers in England and Wales have not received an overall pay rise in excess of 1 per cent since 2010, and in 2011 and 2012 their pay was frozen altogether.
Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT teaching union, branded the cap “unacceptable and unsustainable”.
“The fact that teacher pay has either gone up by a pitiful £2.30 in secondary schools or actually decreased by £12.70 in primary schools in cash terms over the past six years is shocking,” he said.
“We are in the middle of a teacher and recruitment crisis. Workload and trust in teachers are central to this but unless the issue of pay and the funding of our schools is addressed it will only get worse.”
Mr Courtney called on the government to “urgently” ensure teachers’ pay “reflects the vital and challenging work they do day in day out”.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said the figures showed that teachers had “suffered deep cuts to their pay” over the last seven years, with a “major adverse impact on recruitment and retention”.
“These cuts have been made at a time when the demands and expectations on teachers have increased and during a period when workload has spiralled out of control,” she added.
According to Tes analysis, a classroom teacher earning a salary of £35,100 (the average according to the 2016 School Workforce survey) would have experienced a £4,551.87 real-terms cut between 2010 and 2016.
Meanwhile, grants given to teachers to help with housing costs by the Education Support Partnership rose by 122 per cent between June 2016 and May 2017, amid claims that some teachers have resorted to using food banks.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Teaching remains an attractive career, with more people entering the profession than leaving it. We are investing £1.3 billion up to 2020 to continue to attract the best and the brightest into teaching."
This is an edited article from the 7 July edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article 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