Is This the End of Teacher Pay Austerity?

Classroom teachers are set to enjoy a pay rise of up to 3.5%, in an exciting measure that means the end of real-terms pay cuts for teaching staff. However, this isn’t being awarded across the board. Headteachers and other senior staff look set to get between 1.5% to 2% instead, which means their year-on-year pay still won’t keep up with inflation.

This isn’t the end of the impact of austerity measures, although an upwards trend has to be celebrated. Those in senior positions are still receiving a real-terms pay cut, although a lesser one than in previous years. Classroom teachers will be receiving an above-inflation pay raise, but it’s not enough to correct the “damage” of austerity measures.

Since the 1% pay cap introduced in 2010, teaching pay has not kept up with inflation and has fallen in real terms by thousands of pounds. These austerity measures have been set in concrete, despite the pay increases enjoyed by other public sector workers.

This pay rise goes some way to correct the decline in pay for classroom teachers, although it falls well short of the 5% pay rise called for by some teacher action groups.

So, is this the end of teacher pay austerity? Unfortunately, no; not all staff will be significantly affected. However, this pay increase, while minor, could signal the start of a u-turn trend in education funding and the start of better staff retention for the teaching profession.

“[There are] no great schools without great teachers.” – Damian Hinds, Education Secretary

The decline of teacher pay has been a major contributor to the onslaught of teachers leaving the profession, catalysed by the increase of Ofsted and DfE pressure over recent years. Every year, almost 10% of the nation’s teaching staff leaves for good, and there aren’t enough new teachers to replace them. That’s an unsustainable rate of attrition, which has lead to a decline of over 1% of overall UK teaching staff to the year.

Hopefully, these pay rises don’t come bundled with yet another funding burden for already stretched school budgets. Schools are to be awarded a £508m grant over two years to cover the price of increased teacher pay, but there are concerns about where the money will ultimately come from. Will it be drawn from the overall education funding pot, resulting in less funding elsewhere? This remains to be seen.

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