A pay freeze will mean the salaries of experienced teachers have fallen 8% since 2007, analysis suggests
The Government will need to provide above-inflation pay awards from 2022 to stop recruitment and retention problems from worsening, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) researchers have warned.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed on Wednesday evening that there would be a pay freeze for the majority of teachers in England in 2021/22.
But teachers earning under £24,000 would receive an uplift of £250, the Government confirmed.
An IFS analysis suggested that teacher salaries would be around 8% lower in real terms than 14 years ago, just before the financial crisis, and they would be around 4% to 5% lower for less experienced teachers.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
(Image: PA Images)
“In contrast, average earnings across the whole economy have risen by about 0.6% in real terms between 2007 and 2021,” the report stated.
The analysis added: “There was a slight recovery in retention rates for the most recent year of data, as one might expect given the limited number of employment opportunities during the pandemic.
“However, this only really takes retention rates back to where they were about three to four years ago and is likely to be short-lived if there is a recovery in outside employment opportunities.
“There are also signs that teachers are more likely to want to leave the profession after the pandemic.”
Luke Sibieta, research fellow at the IFS, said: “It is astounding that teacher pay levels remain so far below what they were before the financial crisis in 2007.
“The 8% drop in earnings for more experienced teachers has almost certainly contributed to the worsening picture on teacher recruitment and retention.
“The fact that it has taken a global pandemic and economic crisis to ease the pressures on the teacher labour market illustrates the scale of the challenge.
“To stop these problems getting worse, the Government will need to provide above-inflation awards from 2022 onwards.”
Louise Hatswell, conditions of employment specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the IFS’ findings were “stark”.
She said: “Quite how the Government expects schools and colleges to successfully attract new recruits to their ranks given the parlous state of teacher pay is mystifying.”
Ms Hatswell added: “The Government has spent the pandemic praising teachers and education leaders for their sterling efforts in keeping our schools and colleges running but its words have a hollow ring when the reality is it had no intention of rewarding them and instead imposed a further pay freeze.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Teachers and school leaders will be as important in the recovery from the pandemic as they have been in the pandemic response – the Government must act urgently to quickly restore the real-terms losses inflicted on the profession if we are to value teachers and avoid creating yet more recruitment and retention problems.”
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said the analysis added “further damning proof” that teachers were “worse off” because of ongoing cuts to their salaries.
He said: “The NASUWT continues to argue vociferously against any further pay freezes. This is having a damaging impact on recruitment, retention and morale, particularly in the context of the vital work teachers are doing serving on the frontline during the pandemic.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are enormously grateful for teachers’ and leaders’ hard work during the pandemic, and last year we announced the biggest pay rise for the profession since 2005, with above-inflation rises for every teacher in the country.
“The pause to most public sector workforce pay rises ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented Government spending on the response to Covid-19.
“We remain committed to introducing a £30,000 starting salary for all teachers, and this year to protect the lowest earners there will be a pay award of £250 for all teachers earning less than £24,000 as recommended by the STRB (School Teachers’ Review Body).”
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