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Personelle Today

mei 15, 2024


Closing teachers’ pay gap will improve recruitment, study finds

Closing the gap between what teachers are paid and average earnings, as well as applying targeted financial incentives to aid recruitment in shortage subjects, is likely to improve teacher supply.


This is according to analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), which found that the current policy of increasing teachers’ pay at the same rate as average earnings is unlikely to address the current teacher supply problems faced across England, as a gulf between the average wage and teacher pay has persisted for more than a decade.


Despite receiving a 6.5% pay rise in September 2023, NFER claims teacher pay is still less competitive than it was in 2010-11.


This is leading to a shortage of teachers in many subjects – a problem that is worsening as pupil numbers grow – with secondary initial teacher training recruitment reaching only half of its target in 2023-24.


NFER’s study, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, used simulations and forecasting models to consider the costs and potential impact of various pay strategies on medium-term teacher recruitment and retention.


It finds that maintaining the status quo and only awarding pay increases at the same rate as average earnings growth would not have much impact on teacher supply. Instead, the government needs to reduce the “competitiveness gap” between average earnings and teaching, and award pay increases for teachers at a higher rate.


Other approaches such as targeted financial incentives for teachers in shortage subjects like physics or reducing workloads would also make sustained long-term progress in recruitment and retention, it says.


The government recently announced plans to award incentives of up to £6,000 to teachers working in STEM subjects and early years education.


The study finds that improving teacher retention by just one percentage point would have a considerably positive impact on teacher supply by 2027-28, similar to increasing pay by 1%. Options to be considered include reducing teachers’ working hours and workloads.


“The government that forms after the general election will have to carefully consider what role teacher pay increases might play in addressing the critical challenge of teacher supply in England,” said Jack Worth, lead economist at NFER.


“Our analysis shows there are opportunities for improving teacher supply by increasing the competitiveness of teachers’ pay, which would require significant additional government funding for schools. It also demonstrates the chronic underlying challenge of ensuring an adequate supply of physics teachers even under the most generous pay policy, highlighting the need for further targeted measures.”


Jenni French, head of STEM in schools at the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, hoped the modelling would be used by the School Teachers’ Review Body – the independent body that makes recommendations about teacher pay to the government.


She said: “The shortage of maths and science (particularly physics) teachers in England is a persistent problem. Last year, physics recruited less than a fifth of the target set by the government.


There are opportunities for improving teacher supply by increasing the competitiveness of teachers’ pay, which would require significant additional government funding for schools.” – Jack Worth, NFER



“This, combined with the fact that science and maths teachers leave the classroom in greater numbers than other teachers, has resulted in a severe shortage of these teachers, meaning that pupils are often being taught by teachers without specialist knowledge. This has many repercussions, not least of which is the subsequent negative impact on a skilled workforce and, ultimately, the economy.


“We hope that this modelling of different scenarios and predicted outcomes will be used by STRB  to inform its decision-making and recommendations.”


The National Education Union said that “piecemeal” solutions to the teacher supply crisis would not work.


General secretary Daniel Kebede said: “This new analysis finds that if teacher pay merely increases in line with average earnings, the Department for Education will continue to recruit barely half the required number of secondary trainees per year. And by 2027-28, primary trainee teachers will drop to similar levels of shortfall despite falling rolls.


“The NEU has already put the government on watch and is calling for a fully funded above-inflation pay increase to start the process of pay correction for the profession. A whole market approach to pay restoration is needed but must be accompanied by politicians taking workload reduction seriously, and a holistic approach to making jobs in schools as attractive as those elsewhere in the economy.”


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