Education unions call for urgent pay increase to tackle recruitment and retention crisis in the teaching profession

Education unions NEU, NAHT, ASCL and Voice, together representing the overwhelming majority of teachers and school leaders in England, have submitted a joint statement to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), demanding a significant, above-inflation pay increase for all teachers and leaders, in order to reverse the real-terms cuts to salaries since 2010.
Teachers and school leaders have seen the real value of their pay cut relentlessly since 2010, with a drop of 15% against RPI inflation. The adverse impact on teachers, school leaders, schools and students is clear, with recruitment targets consistently missed, retention rates plummeting, and class sizes rising significantly during that time.

The call comes as new research from the Education Support Partnership last week revealed that workload and stress for education professionals is at an all-time high, with more than half of education professionals considering leaving the sector in the past two years.

The current Government’s proposal to significantly increase pay for new entrants needs to be extended to all teachers. A significant, above-inflation pay increase, applied to all pay scales and allowances, and fully funded by the Government, is needed to begin to repair the damage to teacher and school leader pay, and to address the recruitment and retention problems the profession faces. 

It would constitute an important first step towards positioning teaching as an attractive career option for new graduates and offer some tangible proof to serving teachers and school leaders that their contribution to the future of the nation’s children is valued.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, 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.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, 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.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are calling on the independent pay review body to recommend the level of pay award that is so desperately needed to recognise the commitment of our teachers and improve recruitment and retention. But this has to be backed up with the funding that schools will require to implement the pay award, and that is, of course, a matter for the government. We will be looking for whoever wins the General Election to make a clear and early statement that they recognise the urgency of this situation and that they will put their money where their mouth is.”

Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, said: “Teachers deserve and need a significant, across-the-board, fully-funded, above-inflation pay increase. Teachers must be properly rewarded for their hard work and dedication in order to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis afflicting the profession. A decade of relative decline has taken teachers’ national pay too low in relation to the graduate labour market, the wider economy and the important role that teachers undertake. Voice calls on the STRB to recognise this in its recommendations.