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Restore pay in education

The issue

  • Over the last decade, school leaders have experienced a 15% real-terms reduction in their pay. This is now being compounded by rapidly rising rates of inflation and living costs. As NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman explained in a recent press release, with inflation currently running at 9.1%, and set to spiral to 11% later this year, the government’s latest pay award still amounts to yet another pay cut for school leaders in real-terms. Even with this award, school leaders’ salaries have fallen in real terms by around 20% since 2010, and inflation is still rising. School leaders simply asked government to begin to restore what they have lost and the current pay award does not do that.
  • The erosion of leadership pay differentials undermine the incentive to step up to leadership roles at all levels of seniority, particularly given leaders’ spiralling workloads and the malign effects of high-stakes accountability.
  • The government’s current approach to focus on early career teachers will fail retain teachers and leaders, and fail to provide the pay incentives to encourage sufficient to progress in sufficient number to follow leadership pathways through to middle leader roles; assistant, deputy and head teacher posts; and executive leadership positions.
  • This is having a major impact on the retention of school leaders. The DfE’s own data shows that at least a quarter of primary assistant, deputy and head teachers under 50 leave within five years of appointment.  In the secondary phase the wastage rate of assistants, deputies and heads is over one in three, while close to half of middle leaders are no longer in post after five years.
  • The pay freeze has served to make teaching and leadership less attractive.  It further erodes the real terms value of teachers’ and leaders’ salaries, making teaching a less competitive and attractive option, not only to those considering joining the profession, but also to teachers and school leaders who might be considering a career change.
  • Researcher carried out by University of Nottingham and the University of Oxford, and supported by NAHT and ASCL found that two fifths of leaders (40%) said they planned to leave the profession (for reasons other than full retirement) within the next five years.

What we want to see

  • Government should make an immediate commitment to restore all teaching and leadership salaries to 2010 levels in real-terms, and restore the pay differential for leadership roles and experienced teachers.
  • Alongside this, immediate action should be taken to return autonomy, independence and agency to teaching professionals, ending government diktat, adopting fair accountability measures and securing lasting workload reductions.
  • In addition, NAHT is calling for:
    • a reformed national pay structure with mandatory minimum pay points, and pay portability
    • a comprehensive review of the factors that determine leadership pay
    • a professional pay continuum that supports new career pathways and delivers pay progression for teachers and school leaders
    • codification of executive leadership roles within a revised STPCD, and inclusion or alignment of school business leader roles with the leadership pay range
    • Comprehensive analysis of the gender pay gap and action to eliminate pay gaps for all protected characteristics to ensure pay equality and equity
    • protected leadership time for assistant and deputy head teachers
    • establishment of a range of ‘key worker’ packages, differentiated to meet to local or regional circumstance and need
    • a system that delivers timely pay uplifts
    • commitment to full funding of future pay uplifts


What we want you to do

  • Engage with us over our potential next steps by taking part in our upcoming member consultations – see NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman’s email to members in England (29 July 2022) and his newsletter message (18 August 2022).
  • Convene an MPs roundtable in your region (see our briefing document on how here).
  • Write to your MP using our template letter.
  • Share the PowerPoints and other resources (see below) with your school leader networks and governing body.
  • Let us know when you plan to run local campaign activity so that we can help you promote the event and support you.
  • Promote your campaigning work across Twitter using the campaign hashtags (#) and including @NAHTnews.
  • Get active in your NAHT branch.
  • If your colleagues aren’t members of NAHT already, encourage them to join.


Our conference motion

"This conference calls on National Executive to work closely with other trade unions to press government to campaign for:

  • an end to the pay freeze,
  • fully-funded restoration of the real value of leaders’ and teachers’ salaries to reverse the decade-long pay freeze,
  • restoration of the leadership salary differential,
  • a full remit for STRB to review the pay structure for leaders and teachers,
  • alignment of SBL salaries with the leadership pay range and
  • full funding of future pay uplifts.

Conference also instructs National Executive to support a wider public service pay campaign, working with the TUC, to press for a pay increase for all local government and public sector workers, funded with new money from central government."


Useful resources

MP roundtable resources
Restore pay in education resources
Related research


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