A gulf in pay between teachers and other professions has opened up under the current government, according to new research.
A report commissioned by the NASUWT union argues that trainee teachers earn a starting salary which is 20 per cent lower than the average earned by their peers working for major graduate recruiters in sectors such as finance, law and retail.
And the gap appears to widen with time: after three years in the job, the average salaries of recruits to other sectors have risen 73 per cent faster than those of school teachers, according to the Incomes Data Services report.
The NASUWT has claimed that the pay gap means the “entitlement of children to a high-quality education is at risk” as teaching is becoming a “less attractive profession”.
It could also exacerbate recruitment difficulties in shortage subjects such as maths, chemistry and physics, the union added.
“Teaching has moved from being the number one choice for graduates in 2010 to one now where graduates are increasingly looking to other higher-paid professions,” said general secretary Chris Keates.
“There is already a recruitment and retention crisis in the education service. The stark differences in graduate pay highlighted in our research will unfortunately mean this crisis will worsen.
“Children and young people are entitled to be taught by qualified teachers who are recognised and rewarded as highly-skilled professionals.
“The widening pay gap between teaching and other graduate professions is putting children’s entitlement to a high-quality education at risk.”
The Department for Education dismissed the report, however, stating that the NASUWT's comments "simply don't reflect reality".
"We have the most highly qualified teaching profession ever with record levels of top graduates entering the profession and one in six now holding a first class degree, the highest proportion ever," a DfE spokesperson said.
"This is a result of our relentless focus on driving up standards in the profession, as part of which we have changed the rules so that schools can reward teachers who perform strongly and pay more to attract and retain the best teachers in the first place.”
Autumn Statement: teachers face more misery over pay - December 2014
Morgan: 'Strong case' for pay restraint among teachers - September 2014