The government says that a pay rise for teachers should be capped at 2% because this is what ‘schools can afford’.

This is despite strong pressure from teaching unions urging a pay rise of 5%.

However, Damian Hinds, the education secretary, has submitted evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) saying that a 2% pay rise is affordable.

He wrote: “With the cost pressures being faced by schools, the headroom that is available for an increase in teacher pay is affordable nationally.”

However, he also stated that there is no guarantee that a teacher pay increase would be funded by the government.

Government provided funding to help the 2018 pay award

He says that though the government provided funding to help the 2018 pay award, no-one should assume that the same will happen for the 2019 pay rise.

The STRB is scheduled to announce its decision on teacher pay in May with several unions calling for a 5% increase and for this to be fully funded by the government.

The unions issued a joint statement calling for the pay rise earlier this week.

The NAHT’s general secretary, Paul Whiteman, said: “Affordability shouldn’t be the STRB’s remit and its deliberation should not be influenced in this way.”

He added: “After years of pay caps that damaged public sector pay, it’s a disgrace to impose another one of 2%.”

His comments were shared by the joint general secretary of the NEU, Mary Bousted, who says the move will put the education secretary ‘at odds with the teaching profession’.

The pay recommendation submitted by the STRB

Mr Hinds made the unusual move last year of disregarding the pay recommendation submitted by the STRB for a 3.5% pay increase across-the-board for 2018/19.

Instead, he opted to give early career teachers the highest pay rise with other teachers receiving 2% and school leaders receiving 1.5%.

Mr Hinds also told the STRB: “It’s important to ensure any pay increase does not put school budgets under pressure since they also need to invest in school improvement, teaching resources and professional development.”

In his evidence, he also said that the Department for Education has carried out an analysis that shows costs may rise by 0.6% between 2018 and 2020 when schools would then be facing ‘real financial pressures’.

2% teacher pay rise will be affordable from school budgets

A DfE spokesman said that a 2% teacher pay rise will be affordable from school budgets and this is supported by proposals by the government to fund teacher pension contribution increases from September.

The DfE says core school budgets will rise by 2.5% in 2020.

The ASCL’s general secretary, Geoff Barton, said: “The 2% pay rise is unaffordable and inadequate and a fully-funded rise will reflect the commitment, professionalism and hard work of teachers.”