Supplementary evidence on the October 2013 remit letter from the Secretary of State to the School Teachers’ Review Body
Voice welcomes the opportunity to submit supplementary evidence to the School Teacher’s Review Body. We have reviewed the evidence submitted by the other statutory consultees and make the following comments.
In our initial submission we presented the view that teachers’ pay levels have been stagnant for too long and that in order to achieve the aims of the reward package, ie to maintain teacher supply and to continue to attract a high calibre of recruits into the profession pay levels need an increase above the average 1% level put forward by the government. Whilst this may have been acceptable in the short term and as a way out of the pay freeze, it is not sustainable long term if the above objectives are to be achieved.
We note that there is widespread support for a larger than 1% pay increase and for that pay increase to be applied equally and consistently across the pay structure for all teachers and school leaders, including all band points and allowances. We agree with other consultees that there is merit in maintaining consistency of treatment and the maintenance of pay differentials and that a differentiated award would create problems, not least in making the pay award more difficult and burdensome for schools to implement.
The Secretary of State’s submission seeks to limit the Review Body’s powers to recommend and appears to dictate an approach which is not supported by the evidence presented by us and others.
Economic Considerations and Teachers’ Pay
Once again the DFE reiterates its view that there should be pay restraint in the public sector in support of the “government’s long term economic plan which has ensured economic stability and provided the foundations of the current recovery”. We believe that, given future predictions for teacher recruitment and the growth in pupil numbers, which we described in our written submission, the government cannot afford to allow teachers’ pay to continue to lag behind that of other comparable graduate professions.
The DFE evidence continues to maintain that pay in the public sector is significantly higher than in the private sector. Yet bizarrely Annex C of its evidence (paras C8 and C9) shows that the median pay of classroom teachers is lower than that of private sector graduate professionals in several areas of the country, not just in the South East, and goes on to state that “The mean classroom teacher salary is lower than that of a graduate professional in all regions. Classroom teachers are unlikely to be paid salaries at very high levels due to the maximum salary restrictions of the STPCD”. This demonstrates clearly as we have highlighted the damage done to teachers’ salaries over the past few years and the, in effect, year on year pay cuts that teachers have been subjected to. This, alongside other non-pay issues, does not, we suggest present teaching as an attractive profession to the best new graduates or indeed graduates contemplating a career change.
All consultees have agreed that teacher supply remains an area of concern. We find the Secretary of State’s evidence on this issue worryingly complacent. All the indications from recent research on this topic point to the fact that the government cannot afford to rest on its laurels when it comes to teacher supply. The improvements that came as a result of the economic crisis and teaching appearing to be a relatively “safe option” are not being maintained, as we have demonstrated in our evidence.
Another key issue on teacher supply is the sustained period of growth in pupil numbers that we have entered. The DFE evidence shows that the number of FTE equivalent nursery and primary pupils in England is already increasing rapidly with sustained increases predicted through to at least 2020. This will also have a knock-on effect on the number of secondary pupils. This, and proposed changes to the curriculum mean that teacher supply particularly in some key secondary subject areas is a real cause for concern. The DFE appears to be turning a blind eye to this arguing that “decisions taken at school level will determine the actual number of teachers required” (para (21). This cannot be wholly true – teacher numbers required are dependent to a large degree on number of pupils and curriculum areas to be taught. These are not decisions made at school level.
The over reliance on School Direct, which is dependent on schools willingness and ability to participate in teacher education also creates uncertainty in the system. We have evidenced that School Direct does not cover some key subject areas and there will be the need for a co-ordinated approach if intake requirements are to be met. A further concern highlighted by the DFE data is the continued shortage of teachers in some subjects and the percentage of hours still taught by non subject specialists. This is still around the 20% mark.
We have explained in detail why in order to achieve its stated objectives we cannot afford for the pay levels of teachers and school leaders to decrease in real terms year on year. We are heartened to read that this is a view shared by the majority of consultees but unsurprised that the governments evidence continues to mask the real situation with a veil of complacency and self congratulation.
Principal Officer (Pay & Conditions)