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Teachers are long overdue a ‘decent’ pay rise, says former Suffolk headteacher Geoff Barton

PUBLISHED: 17:45 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:13 13 September 2017

Geoff Barton. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Geoff Barton. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Teachers are due a “decent” government pay rise after a report found basic salaries have fallen by 12% in a decade, a former Suffolk headteacher has said.

Baseline salaries for school workers in England were worth 12% less in real terms across all levels of education in 2015 than in 2005, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Education At A Glance report found.

These figures are statutory salaries, for teachers with typical qualifications and 15 years experience and take inflation into account.

It comes after news today that the seven-year public sector pay cap is to be scrapped from next year, with ministers given “flexibility” to breach the long-standing limit of 1% on rises.

The announcement came as Downing Street unveiled a 1.7% hike for prison officers and improvements totalling 2% in police pay for 2017/18.

The end of the ceiling on public sector rises came after massive pressure from unions and Labour.

Former Suffolk headteacher Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We believe it is essential that teachers are given a decent increase in the next pay round which addresses the years of real-terms cuts they have suffered.

“It is also essential that pay rises are funded from central government coffers rather than ministers continuing to expect schools to afford pay awards from declining budgets.

“Only today, the National Audit Office has warned of the difficulties that schools face in retaining teachers, and the OECD has reported how teachers’ salaries have fallen in real terms while those in other countries have risen.

“People do not become teachers for the money. But they do expect fairness, and years of pay freezes and pay caps have left them feeling undervalued. They are long overdue a better deal.”

Essex NUT general secretary Jerry Glazier called on the government to increase the current “wholly inadequate” wages to reward and help retain staff.

Graham White, of the Suffolk NUT, said: “If we value education, then we should invest in education, pay teachers properly, improve teachers’ working conditions, fund all schools much better, and make teaching an attractive profession so we can recruit and retain the very best teachers. Our children deserve the best don’t they?

“Teachers go into teaching because they are passionate about doing the best for children. They want to make a difference. They also need to be able to pay the bills.

“Teachers typically work in excess of 53 hours a week, with primary teachers often working in excess of 60 hours. The theoretical ‘holidays’ are often taken up with marking, preparation, and going into schools to sort things out.”

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