National pay for teachers ‘undermining school standards’
National pay rates for teachers should be scrapped because they damage school performance and depress pupils’ GCSE results, according to academics.
Researchers warned that imposing fixed salary levels across the country led to serious staff vacancies and underperformance in more affluent areas where private sector pay was higher.
It was claimed that national pay in state schools – a system fiercely protected by teaching unions – resulted in an average drop of one GCSE grade per pupil as schools struggled to recruit and retain good teachers.
Pupils in areas such as the Home Counties and leafy suburbs surrounding major cities such as Manchester and Birmingham were most likely to be hit, researchers warned.
Prof Carol Propper, from Bristol University’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation, which published the study, said the findings presented “strong evidence” that national salary scales had a “negative impact on pupils’ learning”.
The comments come amid continuing debate over public sector pay.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, has already announced plans to rip up national pay bargaining for millions of teachers, nurses and civil servants. Under plans, wages would be pegged against local private sector pay scales in each region to save money and drive economic growth.
In a separate move, the Department for Education is also considering radical proposals for a new system of performance related pay to reward top teachers.
The proposals have sparked outrage among unions who threatened a wave of strikes to oppose changes to national pay scales.
But Prof Propper said: “The nature of teaching in England means a large proportion of the work is discretionary – time spent lesson planning, engagement in after-school programmes, time invested in particular children – so there is scope for reductions in effort in response to lower relative wages.
“Our findings present strong evidence that the centralised wage setting of teachers’ pay has a negative impact on pupils’ learning.”
Average classroom teachers currently receive £34,700 a year.