Two new pieces of evidence that support the ‘NO FEES for trainees’ campaign launched by this web site at the beginning of January were published today. High Fliers, the organisation that has been monitoring graduate recruitment since 1995, updated its forecast for 2015 graduate recruitment to suggest the market is still growing and that Teach First will be the largest single employer of new graduates in 2015. But, they don’t count the 30,000 graduates entering training to be teachers in their survey partly because to do so would demonstrate how teaching dominates the graduate labour market.
The second piece of evidence was a research report by Income Data Services for the NASUWT on pay in teaching. This shows pay on entry falling behind. Governments have always been reluctant to accept that by imposing an extra year of unpaid preparation on would-be teachers that affects the decision of some that would become teachers when there are plenty of other graduate job opportunities. Making trainees pay fees just adds insult to injury and further reduces the incentive to teach. It have pointed out before that if the Ministry of Defence can pay trainee officers at Sandhurst, the DfE should be able to pay all trainee teachers rather than impost a levy on training through the fees.
With the labour market for graduates now recognised as buoyant, the fee remission is something that can be achieved quickly and relatively cheaply for government and could make a difference to recruitment. Yes, some individuals would have become teachers and be prepared to pay for the privilege, but the same is true for army, navy and air force officers, not to mention civil servants and many others in the public sector. We don’t expect them to, so why teachers?
After the recruitment crisis of 2000-2003 teachers’ pay rose in relation to the private sector, partly because Ministers took the brakes off the progression through to the Upper Pay Spine. It may have been reasonable during the recession for public sector pay to be kept down, but once pay starts becoming uncompetitive something has to be done or a teacher recruitment crisis develops. The warning signs have been there since 2012, as readers of this blog know.
With most graduate jobs located in or around London traditionally it is in the capital that pay pressures have been likely to exert the greatest effect. But, with new businesses able to start in bedrooms these days and then turnover many thousands of pounds through a single computer pay and conditions have become a national issue that the government’s broadband strategy will only make worse.
Schools can offer what salaries they like these days, and we will try to monitor this trend. Schools may seek to use their reserves to offer higher salaries and savvy trainees will undoubtedly use the evidence from today’s reports to negotiate higher starting salaries, especially if they know that they are in a shortage subject. Schools that register their vacancies with www.teachvac.co.uk will be told about the size of the market and can respond accordingly.
At the end of this month we will know the initial recruitment figures for 2015 training places and can compare the situation with January 2014. Any deterioration will be bad news. Cut tuition fees now.