Updated: Friday, 17th January 2020 @ 10:25am

Salary slash due to government pay policy plans may push talented teachers away from North West, unions fear

Salary slash due to government pay policy plans may push talented teachers away from North West, unions fear

By Ben Ireland

Talented teachers may look past the North West as unions fear new public sector pay policies will hinder schools’ recruitment across the region.

New proposals mean from September teachers will have both a minimum and maximum wage, taking away yearly pay progression – historically an attractive element of the occupation.

Union representatives believe the policy will force some teachers to take pay cuts so colleagues can progress, as Education Secretary Michael Gove demands any salary changes are cost neutral.

Avis Gilmore, North West Regional Secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “The greatest danger is likely to come from the fact that the school budget is fixed and any generous payments to one teacher will inevitably result in a loss for others.

“There is also the likelihood that schools with budgetary problems will hold down all teachers’ salaries to remain viable.”

Performance-based pay will be introduced nationally, instead of the traditional progression based on length of service, and salaries will be decided by individual head teachers annually.

National Secretary of National Association of Head Teachers Russell Hobby revealed his joy last month when the government scrapped proposals for regional pay across the country, but Ms Gilmore thinks more deprived areas will still suffer.

“Without a national pay structure it is likely that schools in a geographical area will gravitate to paying similar salaries and we will end up with regional pay by default,” she added.

“In this case, it is likely that the North West will see salaries fall in relation to areas in the South and East of the country.”

Central government’s plan was to distribute the money more evenly across the country, with struggling schools given additional grants based on the amount of children who receive free school meals.

Nick Wigmore, Secretary of Rochdale NUT, said: “The days of additional funding for schools in more economically deprived areas are slipping away.”

Struggling schools in areas like Rochdale, along with special schools, could see budgets slashed as Mr Gove attempts to spread funding more evenly across the country at no additional cost to the treasury.

“This will obviously effect decisions regarding teachers' pay, and in time will lead to a downward pressure on pay in schools,” he added.

The main beneficiaries of the proposals will be newly qualified teachers (NQTs), with the minimum salary in Greater Manchester now set at £21,588.

Despite the higher starting salary, the NUT worry they could be stuck on the same wage for years.

Nick Wigmore added: “NQTs should be concerned since no longer is there a 'guarantee' of pay progression in teaching.”

Avis Gilmore thinks a permanent pay freeze could incidentally come into place, prolonging the ongoing salary freeze, which led to industrial action.

She said: “It is likely that schools with budgetary problems will hold down all teachers’ salaries to remain viable.”

Picture courtesy of Regional Cabinet, with thanks

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