From education to employment

What has happened to teacher pay in England?

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With the potential for teacher strikes in England, this article seeks to explain the latest picture on how teacher pay in England has changed over time, the state of the teacher labour market and what is currently happening to school funding.

Salaries for most teachers in England will increase by 5% in 2022–23. With inflation currently running at 10%, this will amount to a real-terms fall of about 5%. Coming on top of past real-terms cuts, salaries for more experienced and senior teachers will have fallen by 13% in real-terms between 2010–11 and 2022–23, which will account for most teachers. Teachers in the middle of the salary scale have seen smaller cuts of 9-10% since 2010–11 and starting salaries have fallen by 5% in real-terms. In contrast, average earnings across the whole economy is likely to have grown in total by about 2% in real-terms between 2010–11 and 2022–23.

Given these changes, it is perhaps unsurprising that we see evidence of the teacher labour market under increasing pressure. Targets for teacher trainees were missed in 2022–23, with 60% of the target achieved for secondary school teachers and only 17% of the target in physics. This is compounded by the fact that such targets have been consistently missed over time in many maths and science subjects.

Luke Sibieta, Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies:

‘With inflation currently running at 10%, most teachers will see a 5% real-terms fall in their salary this year. Combined with past real-terms cuts dating back to 2010, more experienced teachers will have seen a 13% real-terms drop in salaries between 2010 and 2022. Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that applications to teacher training have continued to disappoint and that schools report increasing problems recruiting and retaining staff.

‘On a more positive note for schools, the additional £2.3 billion allocated in the 2022 Autumn Statement has improved school budgets in England. School spending per pupil in England is expected to return to 2010 levels by 2024. School funding per pupil is also growing faster than the specific costs faced by schools, which includes the changes in teacher and support staff pay, as well as rising energy and food costs.’

What has happened to teacher pay in England?‘ is an IFS comment by Luke Sibieta

It is available to read on the IFS website: 

Sector Response

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“The IFS is a highly respected, independent body and its findings are clear: teachers have suffered a significant real-terms fall in their pay over the past 12 years while average earnings have risen across the rest of the economy. This is one of the main reasons why schools and colleges are dealing with a recruitment and retention crisis which is making it increasingly difficult to put teachers in front of classes, and which is putting educational standards at risk.

“The government has missed targets for recruiting trainee teachers for many years and only 59% of the target number of secondary teachers were recruited during the last academic year. The latest figures, which include the startling statistic that only 17% of the target number of trainee physics teachers were recruited, are nothing short of catastrophic. Furthermore, nearly a third of teachers then leave the profession within five years of qualifying. This desperate situation is a direct result of the way in which the government has eroded the pay and conditions of teachers and devalued the profession.

“Teacher shortages mean schools and colleges have to rely on non-specialist teachers and supply staff to plug gaps. While these staff work hard and do their best, this situation is obviously not the best thing for children. This report should serve as a much-needed wake-up call for the government to provide teachers with the meaningful and fully-funded pay award they deserve and which will help to address this ongoing crisis.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union, said:

“This is a compelling report on teacher pay and teacher recruitment and retention, with conclusions that should wake the education secretary up to the crisis in our schools.

“The IFS says that real-terms pay for experienced teachers has declined by 13% since 2010, and that over the same period average pay in the whole economy has increased by 2% in real terms. This adds up to a relative decline in teacher pay of -15%.

“Unlike the IFS we would use RPI rather than CPI in our calculations and come up with bigger numbers. But the relative decline of teacher pay would remain. By our measure, teachers have lost 23% in real-terms since 2010, and for support staff the total loss is 27% during the same period.

“Given this climate, one that is built on years of real-terms cuts to pay, it is no surprise to see applications to teacher training well below Government targets, and schools reporting difficulties recruiting and retaining staff. Across the curriculum, there are shortages of teachers.

“Without qualified teachers in the classroom the education of our children and young people will suffer greatly. That is something that parents and employers will not forgive.

“This is the problem the Government has. We don’t want to go on strike, but we may have to. We want the Government to make a correction on teacher pay, to protect the profession and to protect the education of the young people in our schools. We want a real-terms correction for the pay of educators and we want funding to follow that into schools.”

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