Teachers’ Pay

  • Since 2010, successive governments have subjected teachers to continuous pay freezes and pay caps, cutting their pay by some 15% - despite rising earnings elsewhere in the economy.
  • In its 27th Report (2017), the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) concluded that action was “required now to make the teachers’ pay framework more competitive”, noting that real terms pay cuts were adversely affecting teacher recruitment and retention; that average starting and profession-wide salaries were considerably lower in teaching than in other graduate professions; and that the overall recruitment target for Initial Teacher Training was missed again in 2016/17 – the fifth year in a row in which this had happened.
  • In July 2017, the Conservative Government accepted the recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) for 2017-18 and applied a 2% increase to the statutory minimum and maximum of the main pay range but only a 1% increase to the minima and maxima of all other pay ranges in the national pay framework, including allowances.  Teachers on the minimum of their ranges must have their pay level increased by the relevant percentage; but schools have discretion over how to apply the increase for other teachers, so there is no guarantee all teachers will receive even the 1%.  The NEU – along with ASCL, NAHT, UCAC and Voice – has published joint union advice on teacher pay scales for 2017-18, advocating the retention of the previous structure of pay scale points with the appropriate percentage increase in each pay range.
  • These increases have been incorporated into the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions document for September 2017. Although the STRB broke the Government pay limit in its recommendations, and the Secretary of State agreed to accept these recommendations, even a 2% increase is well below inflation so means continuing cuts in the real value of teacher pay. 
  • As the Government continues to hold teachers’ pay below the level of inflation, workload and stress are increasing and funding cuts are leading to higher class sizes, cuts in resources and cuts in staffing. Graduates are turning away from teaching as a career and serving teachers are leaving in increasing numbers (see the Edufact on teacher recruitment and retention).
  • Analysis of Government figures by the Labour Party in September 2017 found that teachers were more than £5,000 a year worse off than in 2010 due to the public sector pay squeeze – a figure supported by the pay loss calculator on the NUT section of the NEU website.
  • Alongside pay cuts, the Government has dismantled the national pay system for teachers. It has ended fixed national pay scale points, extended performance related pay (PRP), removed pay portability and implemented school-based pay determination.  Graduates considering teaching no longer have any certainty about pay; teachers in service may find that their pay progression has slowed down or even halted.
  • All pay progression is now linked to performance, something the NEU has always opposed (see EduFact on PRP in Schools). The new stronger links to performance and individualised pay decisions have led to many teachers being denied progression, often on spurious or even discriminatory grounds.  Moreover, the 2017 NEU pay progression survey, published February 20181, found that one in five teachers (21%) had received no annual cost-of-living pay increase in September 2017; a further 30% had still not yet heard about any annual pay increase at the time of completing the survey; and the teachers most likely not to have received a cost-of-living pay increase were female, disabled, LGBT+, non White British and part-time teachers.
  • The removal of pay portability means that teachers are no longer entitled to keep the progression they have earned through experience.  When they move schools they now have to renegotiate their pay.  Many tell us they are now less likely to consider moving schools as a result.  Teachers on career breaks - mainly women – are likely to be hit hardest of all as they try to re-enter teaching.  Even if they stay in the same school, obstacles can be placed in the way of their pay progression.  In one case, a teacher’s attendance at an ante-natal appointment on a day originally scheduled for a lesson observation resulted in her pay progression being denied, in clear breach of equality legislation and the DfE’s own guidance.
  • The NEU will continue to oppose the Government’s existing changes to teachers’ pay and will robustly resist further attacks.  At a time of a crisis in teacher supply and a buoyant graduate recruitment market, the Government needs to do much more to make teaching an attractive profession. The Union has repeatedly warned that, if the Government continues its strategy of below-inflation pay awards for teachers, thereby cutting the real value of pay and reducing its competitiveness, teacher supply problems will persist and the quality of education provision will decline.
  • The current evidence on teacher pay, teacher supply and teacher morale reaffirms our view that teachers’ pay levels need to be increased significantly.  The NEU, along with ASCL, NAHT, UCAC and Voice, are calling for an immediate, fully funded, 5% pay rise for all teachers.  In a letter to the then Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, sent in November 2017, the unions set out their concerns about the adverse impact that teachers’ pay is having on teacher supply because pay levels have fallen behind that of other graduate professions.  After seven years of real terms pay cuts due to the Government’s public sector pay policy, unions want the Government to make a significant pay increase for all teachers and school leaders.
  • The NEU submission to the School Teachers Review Body, for its review of teachers’ pay from September 2018, sets out the NEU’s case for a substantial pay increase for all teachers - beginning with an immediate 5% across the board increase for all teachers, which should be fully funded by the Government.  The National Education Union has called on the STRB to recommend that:
    • teachers’ pay should be subject to a substantial immediate increase from September 2018, which begins the process of restoring pay in both real and comparative terms;
    • this increase should take the form of a 5 per cent pay increase for all teachers in post, not simply an increase to all pay and allowance ranges; and
    • this should be the start of a further process of restoration of teachers’ pay, at least to the real terms levels prevailing in 2010, with this increase achieved over as short a period as possible.
  • Further information about the NEU’s policy on teachers’ pay is available at www.neu.org.uk.

1 NEU Pay progression survey for September 2017 – available here