Autumn Statement

Two things struck me about the small print of yesterday’s announcement, apart that is from the procurement savings that should favour TeachVac if anyone takes any notice of the requirement to reduce costs.

The first was the final point in the education section:

2.67 The department will deliver 20% core administrative savings through greater efficiency.

I assume this means fewer Ofsted visits. Whatever happened to the aim of visiting every trainee in their last term of a preparation course and the first term of their employment? That seemed like an interesting idea, but very expensive. The second area that might be threatened is the expansion of the Regional School Commissioner idea. The present small band have huge areas to cover and need more staff to really understand their bailiwick.

Even with the cuts in the Education Support Grant, it seems to me that local authorities might still have a part to play in ensuring education performance across all types of schools, including the free schools/academies sector. After all, local authorities and local councillors have a genuine interest in their local schools and are often close to what is happening in them. I doubt most Commissioners would be as aware as fast about what is happening in every primary school in their region as the host of local councillors of all political parties. Why not stop complaining about them and harvest their enthusiasm and support.

The second piece of information buried in the small print at the end of the Treasury document (page 136 for anyone that cares) is the assumed change in wages and salaries each year between 2015 and 2020. Now no doubt some of the change will be accounted for by growth in the labour market overall, but presumably a large part will be increases in wages for existing employees. Some will be the result of salary drift to offset the Living Wage increase as those higher up the wage ladder seek to retain their differentials with those below them. No doubt this is why the Treasury sees wage growth above 4% every year to 2020, peaking at 4.5% in 2016 and 2017.

Those levels of increases mean that thanks to the power of compound interest someone on £25,000 in 2015 might be earning over £30,500 by 2020. That’s fine if public sector wage rates keep pace, but if they are held down, a teacher on £25,000 in 2015 would only be earning around £26,300 by 2020. This would be more than £4,000 adrift over the wage settlements decided during this parliament.

What such an outcome might do to recruitment into teaching of those concerned about pay, I leave for others to decide. All this comes after the recent OECD review of the pay of teachers in different countries that revealed where teachers in England were placed on the global scale of teacher remuneration.

If teachers’ pay falls too far behind that of other graduates of a similar quality there will eventually need to be a catching up exercise, but probably not until after the next general election, unless the economy does remarkably well during the next few years.

 

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