Teachers pay review body flags 'real risk' of schools not being able to recruit

10th July 2017 at 19:12
School Teachers Review Body paints bleak picture of recruitment situation as unions criticise government pay deal

The School Teachers Review Body has said there is a "real risk" that schools will not be able to recruit and retain "high-quality" teachers because starting salaries for the profession continue to lag behing other graduate occupations.

The pay review body also said that the funding situation is so severe that some schools "will find it challenging to implement any pay uplift at all".

The warnings cames as education secretary Justine Greening announced she intended to accept a 1 per cent overall pay increase for teachers in September.

In its recommendations for the 2017-18 pay round, the STRB paints a bleak picture of the recruitment situation facing schools.

"Average starting salaries and profession-wide earnings remain considerably lower for teaching than for other graduate professions," the review body states. 

Its report outlines evidence of "substantial pressures" on recruitment and retention, including:

  • The recruitment target for initial teacher training being missed in 2016-17 for the fifth successive year
  • A rise in the number of qualified teachers leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement
  • Deterioration of retention rates for teachers who have been in the profession between two and five years
  • An increase in the number of schools reporting teacher vacancies and temporarily-filled posts

"The cumulative impact of these factors creates a real risk that schools will not be able to recruit and retain a workforce of high-quality teachers to support pupil achievement," the report states.

The STRB said that action was required to make teachers' pay "more competitive", and that this should be targeted "to support the recruitment and retention of teachers in the early stages of their careers". Its recommendation that the minimum of the main pay range should be increased by 2 per cent means that those starting out in the profession are more likely to get a bigger rise than their longer-serving colleagues.

However, the STRB also conceded that the funding situation facing schools is so severe that some would struggle to give their teachers any pay rise.

"School leaders and governing bodies will face a range of financial challenges over this Spending Review period, and it is clear that some schools will find it challenging to implement any pay uplift at all," the report says.

Union leaders criticised the government's decision to stick with the 1 per cent public sector pay cap and said it would exacerbate recruitment problems.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said: “This is a missed opportunity which the government will come to regret as the teacher recruitment and retention crisis gets worse."

He said that teachers' pay increases had fallen behind inflation 13 per cent since 2010 because of the pay cap, and that the latest announcement would mean that this would increase to over 15 per cent.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: "Holding teachers’ pay rise at 1 per cent for the fifth year in a row will make it even harder to recruit and retain teachers.

"Adding inadequate pay to the toxic mix of stress and overwork is likely to lead to even more teachers quitting," she added.

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