Teachers' pay rises limited to 1 per cent for four years

Kaye Wiggins

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Funding for teachers’ pay rises is to be limited to an annual 1 per cent for four years between 2016-2020, the government has said.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the budget today that public sector pay rises would be 1 per cent for 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20. A Treasury spokeswoman confirmed to TES that this would apply to funding for teacher pay.

Some teachers are set for a 2 per cent pay rise from September 2015, and the spokeswoman said this would not be affected by today’s announcement. 

“Overall, levels of pay in the public sector are now, on average, comparable to those in the private sector,” the budget report said. “However, public sector workers continue to benefit from a significant premium once employer pension contributions are taken into account.

“In light of this and continued low inflation, the government will therefore fund public sector workforces for a pay award of 1 per cent for 4 years from 2016-17 onwards. This will save approximately £5 billion by 2019-20.” 

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “The Chancellor cannot continue to hold teachers' pay behind private sector pay and expect teaching to remain an attractive profession. It would be a recipe for disaster to have fewer teachers when it’s expected that there will be thousands more pupils in schools."

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT,teaching union said: “The Chancellor began his statement by asserting that this was a budget for working people, but clearly this is not the case for hardworking, dedicated public service workers delivering vital services, who now face four more years of pay cuts.

“In education, this will further exacerbate the teacher recruitment and retention crisis and widen the already significant pay gap between teaching and other graduate professions. Teachers’ starting salaries are already 20 per cent below other graduate professions."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the ASCL heads’ union, told TES: “We already have a serious recruitment crisis in teaching. Further limiting pay to 1 per cent will add to the problem and make recruitment even more difficult.”

Other measures in the budget included a new compulsory National Living Wage, expected to be worth £9 per hour by 2020.

Mr Lightman told TES this was a “laudable” aim but that schools would need to be funded for the extra costs of paying higher wages to support staff.

“Any increase in costs will mean schools have to make savings in other areas,” he said. “As budgets get squeezed more and more it becomes very difficult and there’s a risk of jeopardising the quality of education.” 

The budget also included an extra £50m to increase the number of Cadet units in state schools to 500 by 2020. It follows prime minister David Cameron’s announcement of a £1m fund for Cadet units in June 2014.

At the time a statement from 10 Downing Street said the government was “keen to use the cadet programme to give more young people the opportunity to learn about a military ethos - self-discipline, teamwork, punctuality and self-confidence.” 

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Kaye Wiggins

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