UK Unions Say Teacher Pay Cuts Worsen Recruitment Crisis


Low teacher pay and recent pay cuts are making the teacher recruitment crisis worse, six teacherss unions in the UK warn. The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers says the new pay flexibility measures created ‘chaos’ in schools across the country, contributing to the already challenging situation of finding and retaining new teachers.

As teacher pay decreases, a growing number of graduates are considering more attractive career options, unions warn. The government has put a cap of 1 percent to teacher pay raises and has plans to keep it that way for the next four years, the BBC reports.

Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), commented that the 1 percent cap on teacher pay rise and the fact that teachers are among the lowest-paid professions contribute to the ongoing teacher recruitment crisis. He emphasized:

“No amount of misleading advertising which claims that great teachers can earn £65k can cover up the basic pay problems,” The Telegraph reports.

The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, echoed Courtney, saying that the industry is suffering:

“Years of pay restraint are now extracting their toll.”

The NASUWT accused the British government of a failure to provide substantiated claims as to why they introduced additional teacher pay cuts. The union said the government based their decisions to squeeze teacher pay on ‘misleading information’ on teacher vacancy levels, Josie Gurney-Read, Online Education Editor for The Telegraph reports.

The unions, representing both headteachers and educators, say that the 1 percent cap on teacher pay and the ‘real term cuts’ of school budgets exacerbate the already difficult situation for teachers and discourage recent graduates from considering a teaching career. As Sky News says, in 2015 teacher applications dropped by 21,000 compared to the year before. The sharpest fall was in English and Math teaching posts.

“Teachers need a pay raise,” the six teachers union wrote to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). The General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Mary Bousted, warned according to The Independent:

“If teachers’ salaries continue to fall in real terms, the Government stands no chance of recruiting the extra 160,000 additional teachers needed in the next three years to cope with the predicted rise in pupil numbers.”

Entry-level teachers in England get a starting salary of £22,000 ($31,650) outside London and £27,000 ($38.900) in the UK capital. Coupled with long working hours, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the country is facing a teacher recruitment crisis, Hanna Richardson writes for the BBC. The grim situation could soon be out of control, with schools being forced to take strict measures, Bousted said according to the BBC:

“Schools will have to start increasing class sizes or shutting courses and cutting the subject options available to students”.

Chancellor George Osborne said he will maintain funding for five to sixteen-year-old students. However, school headteachers don’t think this is sufficient, arguing that their already high and increasing expenses render teacher pay raises essential.