Half of all classroom teachers could miss out on their first annual pay rise in three years as a result of controversial salary reforms, a union has warned.
Following a two-year pay freeze for teachers, a below- inflation increase of 1 per cent is due to come into effect for 2013-14. But education secretary Michael Gove has proposed that the rise should only be applied to those teachers at the top and bottom of the main pay scale.
Automatic annual rises are to be abolished, and Mr Gove has suggested that schools should be free to decide whether to pass on the annual increase to the tens of thousands of other teachers currently on the scale.
Martin Freedman, head of pay, conditions and pensions at teaching union the ATL, said the proposal could mean that about 50 per cent of classroom teachers yet again miss out on an annual pay rise. "If you don't guarantee teachers will get some kind of pay rise, what incentive is there to go into or stay in the profession?" he added.
Mr Gove last week asked the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which advises ministers on changes to teachers' pay and conditions, to investigate how the 1 per cent pay rise should be applied. In his letter to STRB chair Dame Patricia Hodgson, he stressed the "strong case for continued pay restraint in the public sector".
The possibility of further pay freezes for classroom teachers is likely to encourage those calling for national strikes in protest against wider changes to pay, pensions and working conditions.
The executive of the NUT was due to meet yesterday to decide whether to press ahead with national strikes over pay, pensions and working conditions before Easter. The NASUWT teaching union, which has already balloted its members on strike action, refused to comment on its current position.
In an exclusive interview with TES, Frances O'Grady, the new general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), claimed that Mr Gove was "hell-bent on destroying teachers' morale" and that he was determined to break up national pay bargaining.
The comments from Ms O'Grady, who this month became leader of the TUC (the federation of 54 unions, including the NUT, NASUWT and ATL) follow reports that a source close to Mr Gove had said that the Department for Education was on a "war footing" over the strike threats.
"Michael Gove is determined to break up national pay bargaining," Ms O'Grady said. "This will be bad for teachers and bad for parents and pupils, too. We have excellent, professional teachers doing a good job and working hard but they need a fair, transparent system of pay. Michael Gove seems hell-bent on destroying teachers' morale."
Ms O'Grady said that "individual pay negotiations for individual teachers" would create extra bureaucracy for schools. Mr Gove's "arrogant, high- handed" approach to education reform had "alienated his own workforce", she added.
A DfE spokeswoman said: "The secretary of state reiterated his view.that it is the statutory minima and maxima for classroom teachers that should be uprated by 1 per cent.It will, however, be for the STRB to make recommendations on how to distribute the 1 per cent."
Minimum and maximum annual salaries
Inner London area
Outer London area
Fringe London area
England and Wales excluding London
Photo credit: Getty
Original headline: Pay freeze could continue for half of teachers, union warns