Tories accused over teachers’ pay

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Published: Tuesday 10th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Liberal Democrats have accused Conservative coalition colleagues of risking a recruitment crisis in schools by blocking a 2% hike in teacher pay scales.

Government responses to recommended salary boosts for the m ilitary, doctors, prisons and other public sector staff are expected to be published this week.

But Lib Dem sources said “ridiculous and unfair” Tory opposition could see a decision on many teachers’ pay stalled – possibly until after the general election.

Downing Street denied there was a row, insisting the recommendation of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) was “being dealt with in the normal way” and pointing out that the minister with lead responsibility for the issue was a Lib Dem – Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

The STRB wants the upper end of the main pay range raised by 2%, while the minimum goes up 1%, allowing schools to reward their best teachers with a bigger rise.

At present the ceiling in England and Wales outside of London is £32,187 and the floor £22,023.

Lib Dems said opposing the change was “particularly nonsensical” as the STRB believed that rises could be made from within existing school budgets, meaning no additional cost to the taxpayer.

A senior party source said Mr Alexander and Schools Minister David Laws were ” fighting tooth and nail” to secure agreement.

Chancellor George Osborne, rather than Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, is believed to be at the centre of the alleged dispute.

“This one could run and run. Danny will announce the other pay settlements this week but teachers will be conspicuous by their absence,” the source said.

“The Lib Dems will not sign off a lower pay settlement for teachers than is being recommended by the independent review body. Unless the Tories change their position, this could be left to the next government to sort out, which would be very bad news for teachers if the Conservatives win a majority.

“The pay review body haven’t recommended pay increases for the sake of it but because of the very real difficulty being experienced in recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. If the Tories continue to ignore this very sensible recommendation, there is the very real risk of a teacher recruitment crisis.”

A Number 10 spokesman said: “All the pay review body reports are being dealt with in the usual way. There is no coalition disagreement and the Chief Secretary is the lead minister on this issue.”

The NASUWT teaching union said teaching had already been made a far less attractive career choice by a series of coalition freezes and caps and had urged the pay body to recommend a ” substantial above-inflation pay rise”.

General secretary Chris Keates said: “The cuts to teachers’ pay has been a major contributory factor in the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

“Many teachers didn’t even get the 1% awarded in 2014 thanks to the excessive discretion schools have been given over teachers’ pay.

“That is the context in which the argument over 1% or 2% is apparently taking place. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of what teachers have lost at the hands of this coalition.”

Published: Tuesday 10th March 2015 by The News Editor

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