Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Teachers demand 10% pay increase

Teachers' strike
Teachers staged a one-day strike last year over pay

The biggest teachers' union in England and Wales is calling for a 10% pay rise - and says the economic downturn should not be an "excuse" for low pay rises.

The National Union of Teachers has submitted its demand to the profession's pay review body.

A government spokesman says the current recommended 2.3% offer represents a "good deal" for teaching staff.

Last year about a third of schools in England and Wales were shut by a one-day teachers' strike over pay.

Shortages warning

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the NUT, says that the government and pay body should not be "tempted to use the economic downturn as an excuse" for lower pay increases.

"In this round, our case for a 10% pay rise is based on long-term trends in recruitment, retention and turnover. It also reflects the extent to which teachers' pay has fallen behind other graduate professions," says Ms Blower.

The union's submission to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) calls for "teachers' pay scales to be increased by 3,000 or 10%, whichever is the greater".

It also calls for "an additional increase to restore in full the pay losses resulting from below-inflation pay awards from 2005 onwards".

The NUT says that teachers are falling behind in pay and that it will make "teaching unattractive to graduates who can earn more with less stress in other fields".

The union warns that without improvements in pay there will be a return to teacher shortages.

Last year, the STRB, the pay body for teachers in England and Wales, recommended a 2.3% pay increase, and it is now reviewing that figure.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families says "the recommended 2.3% pay award represents a good deal for both teachers and taxpayers".

"We have increased teachers' pay by an average of 19% in real terms since 1997 to recognise the challenging but rewarding job they do with the average salary for classroom teachers now 31,400."

There have been several reports from the TDA teacher recruitment agency that the economic downturn has boosted interest in teaching - with people looking for more secure public sector jobs.

The TDA, which has reported a 40% increase in online recruitment inquiries, has been targeting banking and finance workers who might want to switch to teaching.

But the NUT says that the recession is only likely to create a temporary increase in interest in teaching.

Last spring, the NUT staged the biggest teachers' strike for two decades in pursuit of a pay demand. Classroom closures were believed to have affected more than two million pupils.

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