Figures revealed by Labour MP Michael Foster show that salaries would begin at Pounds 13,710 if teachers' wages had kept up with average pay. New entrants at the start of this year were Pounds 464 adrift, paid the equivalent of Pounds 13,246 (when adjusted for living costs).
They have also failed to keep pace with non-manual workers. The rise in white-collar pay since 1983 suggests that teachers should be starting with another Pounds 460.
Between 1979 and December 1997, teachers' salaries rose by 47 per cent from Pounds 9,014 to Pounds 13,246 - expressed in 1988 cash values.
Over the same period, average weekly pay has risen from Pounds 242 to Pounds 368, a 52 per cent change.
"Teaching is a profession that's fallen behind," said Mr Foster.
Professor Alan Smithers from Brunel University said that although important, the starting salary was less problematic than mid-career pay. New entrants' salaries are broadly comparable with the private sector but within a few years have fallen well behind, he said.
* Document of the Week page 23