2% for all main scale teachers

Yesterday, the School Teachers Pay Review Body published its report and recommendations to the government. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/626156/59497_School_Teachers_Review_Accessible.pdf as expected, the STRB felt bound by the remit letter it had received from government. As a result, its conclusions didn’t breech the government’s stated policy of a one per cent cap on public sector pay: no real surprise there. However, the STRB’s recommendations did contain one suggestion for higher pay to the maximum and minimum of the main pay range.

STRB’s 2017 Recommendations

For September 2017, we recommend:

  • A 2% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the main pay range (MPR);
  • A 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the upper pay range (UPR), the unqualified teacher pay range and the leading practitioner pay range;
  • A 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the leadership group pay range and all head teacher group pay ranges; and,
  • A 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) allowance ranges.

If accepted, these recommendations will lead to some teachers receiving a higher pay rise than others, notably those on the top of the main scale, but not having progressed through to the higher pay scales. Now since many, if not most academies don’t have to stick to the national pay scales, this provides an interesting opportunity for the teacher associations to flex their muscle and demand a 2% rise on the main scale for all teachers not covered by the mandatory national pay scales. If achieved, it would put pressure on the government either to offer the same deal to other teachers across the sector or risk teacher recruitment and retention issues becoming worse outside the academy sector.

The data in the STRB Report suggests that most schools can carry an extra one per cent on their main scale teacher’s pay bill by dipping into reserves. Yes, a hoped for building project might be delayed by a year, but many teachers would feel that their financial situation is being taken seriously.

Is it in the interests of the teacher associations to take this line or to hold out for more for everyone at some point in the future? That’s their judgement call, but I think the two per cent for all main scale teachers demonstrates that they do more on the pay front than just argue the case with the STRB and are indeed prepared to take on a weak government playing a poor hand on public sector pay.

To compensate, I would argue for bringing MAT chief officers pay within the overall cap. It is surely wrong to cap the pay of workers but let the bosses set their own take from public money, albeit sanctioned by their boards.

There is plenty of evidence within the STRB report of recruitment problems, but having waited so long to publish the STRB might have updated some charts with the evidence from the 2016 School Workforce Census rather than relying on 2015 that charted the recruitment round for September two years ago.

1% pay rise for most teachers likely in 2016

The main teacher associations have now submitted their joint evidence to the School Teachers Review Body (STRB). This follows the publication of the DfE’s evidence to the STRB just before Christmas, although it is dated November 2015. The date is significant, since it presumably allows the DfE to ignore the evidence from the 2015 ITT census and instead rely upon the School Workforce Census taken in 2014 along with the 2014 ITT census as the most up to date information they have on the workforce in schools and in training.

I assume that the STRB could ask for supplementary evidence or commission their own secretariat to update the DfE’s data if it isn’t in the associations’ evidence. The STRB can also look further at the vacancy figures, as they have done in the past.

Nevertheless, the trends and pressures in the system are visible from the evidence that is available and have largely also been rehearsed in front of the Select Committee over the past couple of months.

One chart that struck me in the DfE’s evidence was Figure 10 on page 43. It may be no accident that the East of England and the South East were the two regions with the largest mean and median negative salary differences between classroom teacher salaries and private sector graduate professional salaries. As TeachVac www.teachvac.com has revealed, along with London, these are the two regions where teacher recruitment is at its most challenging.

If the net effect of high pay overall for graduates is to drive up the cost of services in these areas then a one per cent pay rise for teachers will have the most effect on recruitment in these areas. One solution would be to review the boundaries of the extra-national pay areas to extend them out beyond London. It is worth noting that the mean difference was negative across all regions in 2014/15 and it was only the median that was positive for teachers, and in just four regions, the North East, North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and the West Midlands. In the other five regions both the mean and median were negative for teachers’ salaried when compared with the private sector. Apparently, this is due to some graduates earning very high salaries, although this seems less likely in the Home Counties than in Inner London.

It is also not clear why the DfE had to resort to using resignation and early retirement data from the whole of the public sector in Figure 4 rather than using data from the School Workforce Census just for the teaching profession? Could it be that the resignations data looks more favourable across the whole of the public sector than just for the teaching profession? However, with so many young women in teaching – Figure 6 suggest around 30% of the classroom teacher workforce was below 30 in November 2013 (sic) and 74% of these were women – resignations as a result of starting a family are likely to be above the long-term average.

What is also clear from the DfE evidence is the concentration on the EBacc subjects, in some cases to the complete exclusion of data on other subjects. The STRB might like to ask the DfE to remedy this short-comings since they are responsible for the pay of all teachers and not just those in the EBacc subjects.

One relatively new idea from the DfE is to allow schools to extend the concept of a season ticket loan to also cover a loan to teachers for a deposit on rental properties through what is known as a salary sacrifice scheme. This might help attract new teachers into some areas providing the cost of repayments plus the monthly rent wasn’t so high as to still be off-putting at current salary levels. Indeed, the government might put pressure on landlords to reduce the level of deposits required.

The DfE on behalf of the government make much of the need for public sector pay restraint all the way through the remainder of this parliament and their view that overall pay increases should be capped at 1% until 2020.

The associations may well be worried by Figures 8 & 9 in the DfE evidence that show academies with lower median salaries than maintained schools. This is headed average salaries although the DfE haven’t used the mean as the measure of central tendency. Could it be that academies use more unqualified teachers and Teach first trainees and this is bringing down their median salary or is their retention rate worse than I maintained schools? This evidence is contained in the School Workforce Census and the STRB might like to ask more about what the evidence reveals.

Overall, there isn’t much new data since the DfE has used mostly data already in the public domain. However, I would be surprised if the STRB did more than warn about teacher supply on this evidence unless the associations have made a much stronger case. Expect the one per cent overall to be announced for 2016, even if it is nuanced in favour of some groups.


Christmas presents

Last Friday afternoon the DfE published their evidence to the Teachers’ Pay Review Body: not many noticed. The Sunday Times published something, and indeed rang me last Friday morning to ask about numbers of unqualified teachers. Here’s what I told them:

An unqualified teacher is either a trainee working towards QTS; an overseas trained teacher who has not exceeded the four years they are allowed to teach without having QTS; or an instructor who has a particular skill who can be employed for so long as a qualified teacher is not available.  

As a result it may be that the increased number of School Direct trainees that started in September 2013 are being counted in the totals for the first time. However, as reports from ASCL of staffing pressures do seem to be emerging that may also contribute to the increase. The continued switch of schools from LA to converter academy makes year on year comparisons between types of school challenging. 

2012 Workforce Tables had following for unqualified teachers:
2010   2011   2012
LA Primary                                   4,100 4,200 3,700
Pri Academies                                          100    500
LA secondary                             8,100 5,400  3,400
Academies                                           3,800  4,700
Total non-academies            11,600 10,400 10,600
Academies                                2,200  3,900  5,300
Total publicly
funded education                 17,800 15,800 14,800


Of the 2453 academies in the 2012 Workforce Census 

915 employed 100% QTS teachers

65 data NA

6 suppressed data – too small to disclose

1467 or 59% at least 1 unqualified teacher

Of those with highest %s 2 were special schools, and 1 a post-16 campus. Only 6 schools with below 50% qualified teachers

On free schools

Of the 88 in the census, 37 employed 100% QTS teachers; 12 data suppressed; and 8 NA.

So 31 of the 88 known to employ unqualified teachers. That’s 35%.

So, if the 2013 Workforce Survey conducted in November is showing something different it may well is down to School Direct. If that is the case, then it is time for a new category of ‘trainee teacher’ to distinguish trainees from those employed because a qualified teacher either isn’t wanted or cannot be found. Indeed, there might be two categories, one for intentional use of unqualified staff and the other due to absence of a qualified teacher. The term ‘teacher’ might even become a reserved occupational term reserved for those with QTS.

If the DfE’s evidence to the STRB passed almost without notice, then the Labour Party’s Christmas Eve press release warning of a shortage in trainee teachers under this government seems to have received even less recognition so far despite the DfE going to the trouble of issuing a rebuttal. You can read Labour’s research at http://www.labour.org.uk/news Regular readers of this blog will recognise most of the figures, although the number of trainees recruited for 2013/14 is less than in the DfE’s November census for some unexplained reason.

Now normally I wouldn’t quote from a Labour Press release, but as its Christmas, and what it says chimes with what I have been saying both here and with Chris Waterman elsewhere, I am happy to provide the link. I also notice that the release doesn’t offer any policy alternative to the problem: so no responsible alternative government here then.

Trainee teacher recruitment is likely to be a key issue in 2014 with both Michael Wilshaw and the head of NCTL, Mr Taylor, likely to be making speeches in January about teacher training. Both are Gove’s men, so expect School Direct to feature more positively than higher education. But look for the balance of comments between primary and secondary for, in my judgement, it is the former that needs more attention than the latter in terms of reviewing how we prepare teachers for the classroom.

I hope readers enjoy Christmas and the festivities of this time of year through to the start of 2014 and the first anniversary of this blog.