2% pay rise for top teachers: a fair decision?
Public sector teachers in England and Wales will receive up to a two per cent pay rise based on performance from September, the government has announced.
The pay review has been recommended by the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) and while it looks set to be implemented, not everyone appears to be overjoyed by the move.
Speaking to the Mail Online, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said that the proposal to increase teachers’ pay had been “resisted” by the Conservatives and the issue had caused “quite a fierce debate” between the parties.
Quashing any sign of disagreements, Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan said the government would always be willing to reward best-performing teachers.
Both sides have credited the strong economy for allowing this measure to be implemented.
But the financials aside, the external issues surrounding the implementation of the rise are what will be considered most unreasonable.
It is dubious whether teachers themselves will be enthusiastic about the pay review. While an increase in pay is nothing to be sniffed at, no explicit description of what a “high-performance” amounts to has been provided, leaving teachers doubting their competencies.
Additionally, the STRB recommendation sought for the upper end of the pay range to be raised by two per cent, while the minimum go up by one per cent, which ultimately allows a better rise based on longevity of career rather than performance.
To further grievance teachers in the pitiful pay proposal, the government will leave it at the discretion of individual school head teachers and governors to implement and distribute the pay increases.
If the increase is supposed to act as an enticement, which it undoubtedly will be, the breakdown of the figures does nothing to set hearts racing.
Currently the higher pay bracket outside of London is £32,187, while the lower is £22,023. Those new to the profession, and considered entitled by their colleagues, can expect to earn an added £18 a month before tax, while a senior member of staff will receive a monthly increase of £54 before tax.
Ironically, Morgan said she would back a “pay deal which gives heads the freedom to offer their best and most experienced teachers a two per cent pay rise, something that is only possible because we trust heads and governors to decide how to reward their staff”.
Highlighting this unfair distribution and the non-obligation of schools to pay the award, the Teachers Union general secretary Chris Keates commented: “Thousands of teachers face the prospect of having not even this meagre cost of living award from September due to the excessive pay discretion this coalition has given to individual schools.”
While the government now tries to backtrack on extensive teachers’ pay cuts over the last four years, undoubtedly a tactical move in the lead up to the election, the pay deal is overshadowed by teachers now being subjected to performance critique by colleagues and peers within their schools, with the hope of an abysmal rise primarily based on their years of service.
In a profession already struggling with recruitment and retention numbers, the coalition falls short again and, despite efforts, undoubtedly remains unpopular with half a million state school teachers.