The Department for Education (DfE) said salaries for new teachers would rise to £30,000 by 2022-23, and that the move would make starting salaries for teachers among the most competitive in the graduate labour market. Education secretary Gavin Williamson will set out his proposal in a remit letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body, asking for its recommendations.
The minimum salary for teachers in England and Wales is currently £23,720, while the minimum for inner London is £29,664.
The move follows unions calling for an end to pay cuts for some teachers and freezes for others at a time of significant change, including a new curriculum and exam systems.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The proposed increase to teachers’ starting salaries is fundamentally necessary if the government is going to get enough graduates wanting to become teachers.
“Teacher training targets have been missed for six years in a row, and this announcement may go some way to making teaching more attractive.”
But Bousted said the plans didn’t go far enough in that they neglect existing more senior teachers: “Schools need experienced as well as beginner teachers. What is the government proposing for those who remain in the profession, taking on more responsibilities as they gain experience?
“This is a key issue. England has one of the worst teacher retention rates in the OECD with almost half of teachers leaving within 10 years – taking with them vast amounts of knowledge and experience.”
Stephen Bevan, head of HR research development at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), added the warning that the potential of financial reward to attract and motivate staff must not be overestimated, with other factors key. He pointed to research by the DfE, the Nuffield Foundation, the House of Commons and IES itself which shows this.
“The proposed rise in starting salaries for teachers will be welcomed by many. However, as we know from several studies looking at teacher retention, pay is only rarely the main motivator and other factors such as workload, pupil behaviour, administration and the adequacy of school resources can often play a bigger part in helping teachers decide whether to join or leave the profession – especially in the first five years,” he told HR magazine.
"One particular problem seems to be the high rate of turnover early on in teachers' careers. The higher starting salary and more frequent increments early on might help this a little. But unless more is done on workload for example it’s hard to see that cash aimed at attracting new teachers will be as influential over their retention."
Helen Giles, executive director of people and governance for St Mungo’s, agreed that simply increasing starting salaries was unlikely to be sufficient.
"I spent last weekend with a quite recently retired teacher friend who said that he couldn’t wait to get out because of the changes for the worse he has seen. He said that younger people who go in find it really difficult to push back on demands to meet unrealistic workloads brought about by unrealistic targets and constant micro-management to achieve results," she told HR magazine.
"So I think it is good that the government is thinking of increasing the wage, as this needs to reflect the demands of the role... But it isn’t enough. As with any other professional job involving supporting people, teachers need supportive management which ensures their workload is manageable, that they have some autonomy about the way they design and deliver learning, that their own professional development needs are catered for, and that they won’t be exposed to unrealistic demands...
"I think the profession needs an image makeover, but this has to be backed up by people’s experience on the ground... It seems there’s quite a major task involved, of which money and salaries is just one part."
Founder of Talent Architects and former director of people at United Learning Mandy Coalter said she welcomed the move. But she agreed that other changes, such as more flexible working where possible, were also needed.
"This is a good move to start to ensure teaching is attractive to graduates," she said. "But we know pay is not the only issue. Tackling workload, creating a culture of wellbeing, and modern working practices such as flexible working are crucial. And the focus must be as much on retaining experienced teachers as it is recruiting to the profession. The drain of female teachers in their 30s is shocking and highlights the urgent need to make the profession more flexible."
Last week prime minister Boris Johnson announced billions more in spending on schools over the next three years. Next year schools will receive a £2.6 billion uplift, rising to £4.8 billion the following year - with schools spending £7.1 billion more than at present by 2022-23. The government said this £14 billion investment would ensure that pay could be increased for all teachers.
“Teachers truly are the lifeblood of a school and I have been instantly impressed by the dedication, commitment and hard work that I have seen from those at the front of our classrooms,” Williamson said.
“I want the best talent to be drawn to the teaching profession and for schools to compete with the biggest employers in the labour market and recruit the brightest and the best into teaching.
“Teachers should be in no doubt that this government fully backs them in every stage of their career, starting with rewarding starting salaries, and giving them the powers they need to deal with bad behaviour and bullying and continue to drive up school standards right across the country.”