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No movement on teachers’ pay cap

teachers pay cap

For yet another year teachers’ pay will remain capped at 1%, the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed. It will affect more than half a million teachers who will face yet another pay cut in real-terms as limits on public pay continues.  The cap – initially at 0% and later 1% has been in place since 2010 by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition as part of austerity measures.

Theresa May refused to lift the cap despite members of her own senior team, including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt indicating they thought it was time to increase pay for public sector workers.

Justine Greening Education Secretary said the Government has accepted the recommendation of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which said there should be a 1 per cent increase for all pay ranges. “The recommendations, due to be introduced in September, are consistent with the Government’s 1 per cent public sector pay policy.”


Teachers at the bottom of the main pay scale will receive an automatic 2 per cent increase but Ms Greening said they only represented “a small proportion of teachers.”

Only teachers at the bottom of pay ranges will receive automatic rises. The rest will be down to the discretion of schools. The education secretary also indicated that schools would have to fund the cost of any pay increases out of their own budgets.


A DfE spokeswoman said: “We recognise and value the hard work of teachers which is why we have accepted the pay deal proposed by the independent STRB, in line with the 1 per cent public sector pay policy. This will ensure we continue to strike the balance between being fair to public sector workers and fair to taxpayers.”

Labour said the government was causing a recruitment crisis in schools by holding down pay, while the award was described as “an insult” by the Liberal Democrats. Teachers’ unions said that salaries will have fallen 15% behind inflation since 2010.

The pressure is now on Chancellor Philip Hammond to announce a review of public spending in the Autumn budget.


Recruitment crisis

Head teachers’ leader Geoff Barton accused ministers of “playing fast and loose with children’s education.” “Teachers are facing a seventh year of real-terms pay cuts at a time when we are in a full-blown recruitment crisis,” said Mr Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.

Run down, stressed out, overworked and underpaid, teachers are leaving the profession faster than those joining. Nearly a quarter of the teachers who have qualified since 2011 have already left the profession. A recent survey shows that more than 27,500 teachers who trained between 2011 and 2015 had already left the job by last year. It means that just over 23% of about 117,000 teachers who qualified over the period have left.


The pay review body said there was a “real risk that schools will not be able to recruit and retain a workforce of high quality teachers to support pupil achievement.”

There is also a warning that schools are “working under increasing financial constraints.”

“Between now and 2020, many schools will face both real-terms reductions in the level of per-pupil funding and growing cost pressures. Difficult choices may be inescapable,” says the pay body.

The pay limit was part of the government’s efforts to reduce the budget deficit following the financial crash.


Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said the outcome was “deeply disappointing.” He criticised that the pay review body “had its hands tied” and could not recommend a pay award “based on the evidence.”

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the largest teachers’ union, said “This is a missed opportunity which the Government will come to regret as the teacher recruitment and retention crisis gets worse.”

“Teachers’ pay increases have fallen behind inflation by 13% since 2010 while this public sector pay policy has been applied.  This latest pay announcement will mean that figure increases to over 15%.  The pay being offered to newly qualified teachers would be over £3500 higher if the pay cap had never been applied and schools would have far fewer difficulties in recruiting new graduates.”

“The Government’s attack on national pay scales and its pursuit of performance related pay at a time of funding cuts in schools has meant that teachers are increasingly unlikely to get pay progression either.  The result is that the Government’s own figures show that average pay for classroom teachers has only gone up by £300 – less than 1% – since 2010.”

“The Government announcement does however allow a 2% increase for all teachers on the main pay scale, not just newly qualified teachers, and the NUT will be pressing the Government to ensure that this happens.”

“The School Teachers’ Review Body has told the Government that teachers continue to be paid less than other graduate professionals throughout their careers and that the pressures faced by schools in attracting high quality teachers have not reduced.  It has also said that there needs to be a longer-term investment in an effective teaching workforce.  This clearly supports the NUT’s argument that the Government needs to invest in more and better paid school staff.”


James Westhead, executive director of Teach First, said that “recruiting teachers is becoming more and more challenging. We need to ensure teaching is fairly rewarded.”

  • The 1% increase will see the overall annual teachers’ pay bill for England rise by about £505m to £25.3bn, with the extra cost to come out of the government’s existing allocation of funding for schools.
  • Newly-qualified teachers from the autumn will have a starting salary of almost £23,000, with the upper pay scale for classroom teachers going up to about £38,700. Head teachers’ pay will range from £44,500 to over £100,000.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said the government needed to clarify how schools would pay for the increase – or whether it would be “squeezed” from budgets that were already under pressure.

“There are now more questions than answers about their education policy, and schools urgently need some certainty,” said Ms Rayner.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, said: “Giving teachers another below inflation pay-rise is frankly an insult to these incredibly hard working and dedicated professionals.”


A Department of Education spokeswoman said: “We recognise and value the hard work of teachers which is why we have accepted the pay deal proposed by the independent School Teachers’ Review Body, in line with the 1% public sector pay policy.

“This will ensure we continue to strike the balance between being fair to public sector workers and fair to taxpayers.”


The decision over teachers’ pay will be seen as sending a signal over pay for more than five million public sector workers.


July 11, 2017