Schools with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils are more likely to struggle to cover the cost of this year’s teacher pay rise, research shows.
The Department for Education has stumped up £508 million to be shared between schools to cover the first 1 per cent of the pay rise.
But research carried out by thinktank EPI (the Education Policy Institute) shows that because the cash is distributed according to the number of pupils, some schools will lose out.
And those will be schools with higher numbers of disadvantaged pupils – because they tend to have lower pupil-to-teacher ratios.
The pay increase for this academic year amounts to a 3.5 per cent rise for teachers on the main pay scale, while those on the upper pay scales and school leaders will receive a two per cent and 1.5 per cent increase respectively.
But EPI says that means schools with more disadvantaged pupils will have to pay even more to cover the cost of the pay rise - because they tend to have more teachers on the main pay scale.
EPI Director for School Workforce James Zuccollo said: “The allocation of this funding on a per-pupil basis is likely to leave some schools, particularly those with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils, with budget shortfalls. These schools tend to have fewer experienced teachers and smaller class sizes, both of which make the pay rise more expensive.”
Meanwhile, some schools will receive a surplus to what they need to cover the cost of the increase in their staff wage bill, say the EPI.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union said: “It is particularly concerning that schools serving the most disadvantaged communities are likely to suffer the most. The government’s claims of equity and fairness do not amount to much for the dedicated professionals working in the most challenging places.
“This amounts to another pressure on school budgets that are already at breaking point. When your budget is balanced on a knife-edge, even a small, unforeseen overspend can be very difficult to absorb.”
Mr Whiteman said that despite the pay rise, the majority of the school teaching workforce was still going to be worse off than last year in that 56.5 per cent of teachers who are on the upper pay scales were receiving “a real-terms cut to their take-home pay.”
He added: “It should also be noted that schools still don’t know how much of a hit they will have to take on the planned increases to pension contributions. This will add further pressure and uncertainty, and will push many school budgets past breaking point and into really unsustainable financial situations.”
A DfE spokesman said: “In July 2018, we set out how the £508 million Teachers’ Pay Grant will be allocated to schools and local authorities so that they can provide a pay uplift for thousands of hard-working teachers.
"We are using pupil numbers to allocate funding, as the quickest and most effective way to get this money out to schools.
“We are committed to tackling educational inequality – the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils is shrinking and we continue to protect the pupil premium, worth more than £2.4bn this year, to support those who need it.“