UNION leaders representing tens of thousands of teachers across the country have made an impassioned plea for a pay rise for the education sector to curb almost a decade of real-term cuts to salaries.
Fears have been voiced over a recruitment crisis in the profession with pay for teachers significantly lower in comparison to other graduate jobs.
And senior officials have claimed an ambitious plan announced by the Conservatives to boost salaries for teachers embarking on their careers needs to be extended across the profession.
The general secretary of the school leaders’ union, NAHT, Paul Whiteman, said: “Higher pay for teachers and school leaders is not just essential, it is richly deserved.
“The essential work they do needs to be rewarded properly. Teachers and leaders have seen their pay fall in real terms for the past decade.
“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.
“Review of the pay structure to ensure that it recognises and fairly rewards both classroom teaching and leadership responsibility is long overdue – and a critical element of that offer. But it is vital that any pay award is fully funded with additional money to schools, or it will only cause even deeper cuts elsewhere.”
Union officials from the NEU, NAHT, ASCL and Voice, which represent the overwhelming majority of teachers and school leaders in England, have today called for a “significant, above-inflation” pay rise.
The union leaders have claimed that teachers have seen the real value of their pay cut since 2010, with a drop of 15 per cent against RPI inflation.
They are calling on the independent pay review body to recommend the level of pay award to help improve recruitment and ensure teachers view the profession as a long-term career.
Research from the Education Support Partnership published last week revealed that workload and stress for education professionals is at an all-time high, with more than half of teachers considering leaving the sector in the past two years.
The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, 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 Conservatives have committed to a £14bn boost for education over three years, which Chancellor Sajid Javid announced in September.
In addition to more cash for schools, the funding plan includes £400m for further education colleges and increased pay for teachers, with starting salaries rising to £30,000 by 2022-23.
However, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell claimed that education spending had been cut by £10bn since 2010 during successive Conservative governments.