The School Teachers’ Pay Review Report, sent to the government at the end of April, was finally published today. I posted a blog on the 24th May wondering about its non-appearance. My speculation was that it might contain some facts and conclusions on teacher supply, recruitment and retention that would make uncomfortable reading for Minister. In one sense this has proved to be the case.
Although the STRB finally conclude:
Taking all these factors into account, and balancing risks to recruitment and retention against the importance of giving schools time to plan for managing a higher uplift, we judge there would be significant risks associated with a recommendation this year for an uplift of more than 1% to the national pay framework.
However the next paragraph provides something of a warning to Ministers by commenting:
However, if current recruitment and retention trends continue, we expect an uplift to the pay framework significantly higher than 1% will be required in the course of this Parliament to ensure an adequate supply of good teachers for schools in England and Wales. Accordingly, we recommend the Department, and our consultees take steps to help schools prepare for such an eventuality
It is difficult to make a clearer statement than that about what’s happening to teachers’ pay. The Report is mostly silent on the issue of conditions of service. Whether government will listen is another matter.
The Report was, of course, prepared before the Referendum vote and the economic shocks that are beginning to affect the markets. In that respect, I am reminded of the consequences of the oil price shock in 1972 and what it did for the British economy. In those days the London Stock Exchange had but one index of share price movement, the FT 30 Index, made up of 30 leading shares. It used a geometric rather than arithmetic mean as the basis of its calculations, thus in some cases understating the magnitude of any change. Even so, the market collapsed from a high in 1972 of 543.6 to a low on January 6th 1975, when most traders returned after the holiday break, of just 146. This was a slide in under three years of some 80% in real terms after inflation. It also followed the two general elections of 1974
Hopefully, the departure from Europe won’t create such a fall in the value of shares and the knock-on effects on the rest of the economy, but if it does, then who knows what will happen to teacher supply? The pound dollar rate has already fallen from the 1.40s:1 rate before the referendum to under 1.30:1 as I write and there is an emerging consensus it will end 2016 at around 1.16:1 or $1.16 per £1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36721278 There are even some pessimists predicting the £ will fall below parity with the dollar.
All of this is a way of saying that the STRB Report, although interesting, could be consigned to the dustbin of history. Economic downturns have a history of attracting recruits into teaching and persuading those already there to stay. Will that happen; who knows. An alternative scenario is that with a relatively young profession, many abandon teaching here and head for jobs overseas where their skills might be better rewarded and they can save for a return sometime in the future. I guess we will all have to watch and wait, that is except for those that take action and do something.