Education secretary Nicky Morgan has approved plans allowing schools to give their best teachers a 2 per cent pay rise.
Ms Morgan has accepted recommendations by the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) that the upper end of the main pay range should increase by 2 per cent for 2015-16, breaking the government’s 1 per cent public sector pay rise limit. The lower end of the main pay range will rise by 1 per cent.
For teachers on the main pay range, schools are free to set an individual's salary between the upper and lower limits, and can decide whether to pass the cost-of-living increase on to teaching staff.
Ms Morgan said the move would let headteachers reward their “best and most experienced” teachers, adding that it was “only possible because we trust heads and governors to decide how to reward their staff”.
The announcement comes after what Liberal Democrats have described as a “fierce” battle to persuade the Treasury to accept the STRB’s recommendations. Speaking at the TES election hustings in London last night, the party’s schools minister David Laws accused chancellor George Osborne’s department of trying to block the rise, echoing comments made by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg earlier this week.
However, Downing Street has insisted that the STRB’s recommendation was “being dealt with in the normal way”.
Details of the pay agreement are expected to be set out in a written ministerial statement from Ms Morgan this morning.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “The fact that the review body has recommended breaking the Treasury's pay cap, albeit only for some teachers, demonstrates that [it] recognises there is a real issue in terms of the adverse impact the coalition government's public sector pay policy is having on teacher supply…What makes the situation even worse is that even when the review body recommends a percentage award, schools are not obliged to pay it.”
Labour's education spokesman Tristram Hunt said: “Let's be very clear, this is not a commitment to new money for schools to fund a pay increase of 2 per cent.”
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said that even a 1 per cent pay rise for teachers would force schools to either make cuts elsewhere in their budget or not pass on the increase to teaching staff.
"Schools need more funding and teachers' pay needs to rise," she added. "Otherwise, we simply won't have enough teachers to cope with growing pupil numbers."
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said: "Governing bodies are having enormous difficulty in recruiting school leaders into leadership positions and the recommended pay award will not help.
"All teachers have taken a real-terms cut in their net pay each year since 2010 and we believe that there is a very strong case for an above-inflation rise this year."
One in four teachers denied pay rise, survey reveals – 23 January 2015
Autumn Statement: teachers face more misery over pay – 3 December 2014
Morgan: 'Strong case' for pay restraint among teachers – 12 September 2014