What research is the Department for Education doing to assess the impact of teacher pay changes?


The Department for Education has unveiled plans for commissioned research to see how the latest teacher pay rises have impacted retention rates among senior teachers.

Having asked for expressions of interest in the research contract, the department has said it wants to see whether the pay increases had any “unintended impacts”.

It comes after teacher pay was boosted by 3.1% overall from September 2020, although there was a disparity between the increases available for newly qualified teachers and more senior staff.

While ECTs received a 5.5% rise in their starting salary, the majority of more experienced staff received a 2.75% increase, fuelling concerns that it might drive skilled teachers away from the profession.

The Association of School and College Leaders had voiced concerns when the announcement was first made that it might be viewed negatively by senior teachers, describing it as a “kick in the teeth”.

Geoff Barton, the organisation’s general secretary, said at the time it would do little to “keep long serving staff in the profession”.

However, education secretary Gavin Williamson said it was the “biggest pay rise in the profession in 2005” which formed part of plans to enhance standards in the sector.

“Inspiration teachers change millions of lives by giving our children the drive and desire to learn, and reforms to teacher training, early career support and teachers’ pay are key to the government’s plans to improve school standards,” he said.

The contract, which is targeting private research firms, is worth £120,000 and several key objectives relating to the government’s recruitment and retention strategy.

It will seek to understand how the new pay scales are impacting on the decision making of those considering either entering or looking to remain in teaching.

In addition, the research will focus on whether the reforms have altered career progression opportunities or had a detrimental impact on aspiration levels among staff.

The Department for Education also wants to look at whether “any unintended impacts” have arisen from the pay reforms, especially in relation to retention and development among more experienced teachers.

A key element of the research will involve interviews and communications with a range of staff, from trainees and early-career teachers through to experienced staff and head teachers, as well as individuals who are considering a career in the classroom.