The head of Scotland’s largest school of education is calling for higher starting salaries for teachers.
Scotland has faced a teacher recruitment crisis for a number of years, to which the government has responded by increasing places on teacher education courses and introducing new routes into the profession.
However, Professor Ian Rivers, head of the University of Strathclyde’s school of education, believes the starting salary for teachers is a major stumbling block that must be addressed if Scotland is to succeed in attracting sufficient numbers of teachers into the profession.
This year, 30 per cent of places on the most common route into teaching – the one-year PGDE postgraduate route – went unfilled.
Benchmark teaching salaries
The professor said the £22,800 starting salary in Scotland is too low – and he wants teaching salaries to be benchmarked against other graduate jobs.
He said: “We should undertake a benchmarking exercise to ensure that teachers are paid a fair salary.”
Professor Rivers added: “We have to look at whether or not teaching salaries are attractive and starting salaries are not very attractive in Scotland. I don’t think 22K is a great deal for what teachers end up doing. I had a primary PGCE student at Brunel [University London] who, when he went for his first job, got £34,000 starting. That was in London, but even with London weighting, which is only a couple of grand, it’s still a shift.”
In Scotland, newly qualified teachers earn £22,866 irrespective of where they work.
In England, newly qualified teachers begin on a salary of at least £22,917, rising to £28,660 in inner London. Schools in England also have greater freedom to develop their own pay policies.
Negotiating pay and conditions
However, Professor Rivers pointed out that all students completing teacher education courses in Scotland had the benefit of being guaranteed a post for their one-year probation.
This year Scotland’s biggest teaching union has called for a 10 per cent pay rise for all teachers.
Teaching unions in England argued last year for an immediate, fully funded 5 per cent pay rise for teachers after seven years of real-terms cuts.
To date, the Scottish government has lifted the public sector pay cap of 1 per cent and has committed to 3 per cent pay rise for all public sector employees earning up to £36,500.
It has also said that it will play its part in Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) talks – the negotiating framework for teachers' pay and conditions of service.
Professor Ian Rivers discusses the teacher recruitment crisis in more detail in tomorrow’s Tes Scotland magazine