“We want to attract the best talent into teaching and recognise the great work they do, so we’re raising teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 – among the most competitive in the graduate labour market”.
Conservative party, 24 November 2019
The Conservative manifesto restated a policy announced back in September to raise teacher starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022/23. The manifesto claims that this would mean teacher salaries would be “among the most competitive in the graduate labour market”.
While it’s difficult to be precise about what counts as a “competitive salary” this salary would put teachers in the top quarter of graduate earners.
How much are new teachers currently paid?
The minimum salary for qualified school teachers depends on where their school is based.
In 2019/20 this ranged from £24,373 in England (excluding London and London’s “fringes”) to £30,480 in inner London.
The government has pledged to increase the starting salary to £30,000 by 2022/23, though this wouldn’t necessarily apply to all teachers.
Education is a devolved issue, which means that this commitment applies only to teachers in England.
Also, the Education Secretary stated in a letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) that the increase to £30,000 would not apply to teachers in London: “for London pay areas you will wish to set out recommendations on the appropriate higher starting salaries”.
Finally, academies and free schools (which as of January 2019 made up 32% of primary schools and 75% of secondary schools in England) are not bound by the terms of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) in the same way that maintained schools are. However, there is evidence that in practice many follow it voluntarily.
What is the impact of this commitment?
A salary of £30,000 in 2022/23 is worth £28,300 now (after you adjust for expected inflation—the fact that we expect the purchasing power of the pound to decrease in future years). So the commitment would increase the starting salary of teachers affected, by nearly £4,000 in today’s money.
Is £30,000 by 2022/23 “among the most competitive in the graduate labour market”?
There is no official definition of a competitive graduate salary. However, the government does publish graduate earnings data, which includes the upper quartile graduate salary one year after graduation.
The most recent data available is from the tax year 2016/17, where the top quarter of graduates earned at least £25,700 one year after graduation.
That’s estimated to be worth around £29,200 in 2022/23 which means a £30,000 salary in 2022/23 would probably put teachers in the top quarter of graduate earners and it’s fair to consider this a competitive salary.