Four education unions representing the majority of teachers in England have written a joint letter calling for a “significant, above-inflation pay increase” for teachers.
The NEU, NAHT, ASCL and Voice say the pay rise must be “applied to all pay scales and allowances, and fully funded by the government”, as a way of addressing the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.
The education unions' joint letter, entitled “The united view of the profession”, is addressed to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the independent organisation that makes recommendations on teacher pay.
It highlights both the fragmentation of the national pay structure and the imposition of performance-related pay for teachers as factors contributing to teacher pay problems, and calls for the restoration of national pay scales, including pay portability and "a robust appraisal system that is not linked to pay".
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We have a teacher supply crisis with recruitment targets missed year upon year and retention rates getting ever worse.
"Teacher pay, in comparison to other graduate professions, is a significant contributing factor to this problem. The teaching profession is vitally important – the least a government can do is pay teachers properly.”
The four unions have not called for a specific percentage pay rise, but they all agree that teachers and school leaders have seen the real value of their pay fall "relentlessly since 2010, with a drop of 15 per cent against RPI inflation".
They are calling for assurance that a “significant pay increase” will be extended to all teachers and apply to all pay scales – not just newly qualified teachers, for whom the government has pledged a £6,000 rise on starting salaries.
They also cite new research from the Education Support charity, published last week, which revealed workload and stress among education professionals was at an all-time high, with more than half having considered leaving the sector in the past two years.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the pay awards needed to be backed up with the funding for schools to implement it.
He said: “We are calling on the independent pay review body to recommend the level of pay award that is so desperately needed to recognise the commitment of our teachers and improve recruitment and retention.
"We will be looking for whoever wins the general election to make a clear and early statement that they recognise the urgency of this situation and that they will put their money where their mouth is.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said: “If we are going to plug the leaky pipeline of recruitment and retention, we desperately need to develop an attractive offer for new graduates, career changers, and existing teachers and leaders to encourage them to develop decades-long professional careers in education."
Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, said: “A decade of relative decline has taken teachers’ national pay too low in relation to the graduate labour market, the wider economy and the important role that teachers undertake. Voice calls on the STRB to recognise this in its recommendations.”