Paul Whiteman, general secretary for school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Teachers are graduates who have many career choices open to them. They go into teaching with passion, because they care and want to make a difference, but salaries have to be competitive with other graduate professions in order to attract and retain the best people. Teachers do a job that is vitally important to this country, to our children, and to the future. We need the best people. So we aren’t comparing salaries with the national average, we’re comparing with other graduate professionals.
“Teachers’ real average hourly pay has seen a substantial fall of 15% over the last decade, and schools are currently experiencing a serious recruitment and retention crisis. Teachers have not seen a pay rise, or even salaries that keep up with inflation, since 2010. Teachers in our schools work longer hours, for less money compared to their peers around the world. Today’s graduates are attracted to other professions, and current teachers are leaving in search of other careers.
“There has been £2.8bn of real terms cuts to school funding since 2015. Per pupil funding is falling in real terms and school budgets are at breaking point. The IFS say that over the next four years school spending per pupil is expected to fall again by about 6.5% in real terms.
“Meanwhile, wider health and social care services for families and children have also seen severe cuts, and schools and colleges are having to use their own impossibly tight budgets to pick up the pieces. With more children starting school with increasingly complex additional needs, Teaching Assistants are a vital part of the school workforce. There is certainly evidence that TAs make a positive impact on SEND students, and to so easily dismiss these children’s education is wrong.
“Teaching Assistants are a learning resource, and to argue that spending on their salaries takes away from other resources is to fundamentally misunderstand their vitally important role in the classroom. The total number of school support staff has already declined by 11,300 in 2016, only adding to the burden of overworked and stressed teachers with rising class sizes. For the taxpayers’ alliance to effectively argue that thousands more of these tax-paying workers should lose their jobs is extraordinary and incredibly out of touch.
“This report calls for money to be spent where it will make the most difference. As the DfE has acknowledged, talented teachers are what makes the difference, especially to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. They deserve more and we reject this report entirely.”
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