Teachers’ pay being cut due to lack of annual pay rises and performance related pay progression, according to an NEU survey
Teachers’ pay continues to be cut because schools are increasingly failing to give them cost of living increases as well as denying them pay progression, the National Education Union’s annual national pay survey shows.
The survey of over 12,000 teachers shows that one in five (21%) teachers have not received a pay rise from September this year, and a further 30% were still waiting to hear whether they would get an annual pay rise for this year.
In addition, five years after the government introduced performance related pay (PRP) for all teachers, 14% of teachers eligible for pay progression on their pay scale were denied it. A further 25% still have no idea whether they will receive any pay progression this year.
Over 90% of those denied progression were not told during the year that they were not meeting the standards needed to progress, despite government guidance that this should happen. Although the vast majority (88%) thought the decision to deny them progression was unfair, only one in five (22%) are appealing the decision, with many saying that they have already been told not to bother appealing.
Although nearly a third (30%) of those denied progression were told they would not progress for alleged failure to meet pupil progress objectives, 17% were told that they were being denied progression for budgetary reasons, despite government guidance that funding should not be a factor.
These results on pay scale progression are almost identical to last year’s survey, confirming that many teachers continue to be unfairly denied progression, government guidance continues to be widely disregarded, and the NEU’s predictions that PRP would lead to unfair pay cuts were well founded.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The government has created chaos on teachers’ pay which is contributing to the crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers. Many teachers are facing pay cuts because their schools are not raising their pay this year. And, despite all the government’s assurances that PRP would not be unfairly applied, many others are being hit doubly hard because their schools are not allowing them to progress up the pay scale.
“Schools are in a difficult position because many are struggling to make ends meet. But denying teachers a pay rise simply drives them away from teaching.
“The government needs to heed the repeated warnings from the School Teachers’ Review Body that pay restraint is affecting recruitment and retention. It needs to accept the NEU’s arguments, end the public sector pay cap and fully fund a pay increase for all teachers to begin to restore teachers’ pay to competitive levels. It needs to reintroduce national pay scales for teachers to replace the chaos. If the government fails to act, more schools will struggle to recruit and retain teachers and children’s education will suffer.”
The survey also asked teachers whether they think they are paid a fair salary for their job compared to other workers. Nearly 80% said that they think they are paid less than they are worth, with 29% of them thinking they are paid significantly less than they are worth.
A secondary teacher from the North East said: “My husband and I, teachers with three school aged children, are really struggling to cover our living costs and are considering selling our property and moving into cheaper accommodation because our salaries have not stayed in line with inflation”.
A primary teacher in Kent said: “The cost of living has increased, but my pay has not so my standard of living is deteriorating significantly to the point where I am now in receipt of universal credit to cover the bills”.
A primary teacher in London said: “I have been teaching for ten years but barely make it from pay cheque to pay cheque living in London and there is nothing left for any emergency expenses”.
The survey was answered between October and December by 12,191 National Education Union members working as teachers in state-funded schools in England.
A full survey report, which will include data on teachers by sector and personal characteristics, will be published in January as part of the NEU’s evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body for its 2018 review of teachers’ pay.