Mr Gove’s wish: deregulation

Michael Gove yesterday submitted a 71 page proposal to the Teachers’ Pay Review Body in which he states that he wants to introduce radical pay reform to teachers’ pay by scrapping national salary scales. This would enable head teachers and governors to negotiate and set teachers’ salaries within each school in the same way that Academies and independent schools do.

Gove’s analysis suggests that teachers in and around London are underpaid and that teachers elsewhere, especially in the North of the country, are paid well above those of professionals working in the private sector. He therefore believes that those schools that have more vacancies and weaker results should be given the freedom to pay more to attract and keep good teachers.

If the proposals are accepted it is likely to trigger widespread strikes instigated by the unions, as the National Union of Teachers’ recent conference backed strikes to defend national pay scales. They are of the view that to deregulate teachers’ pay would reduce teacher mobility and would create shortages in areas of lower pay.

The Department of Education has said that it recognises that there is an argument for higher salaries in certain areas, such as the South East, where living costs are higher, but the concern is that if schools are given the ability to set their own salaries, this would simply lead to teachers defecting to higher-paid posts.

The Teachers’ Pay Review Body will make recommendations in the Autumn and could decide to accept, amend or reject the proposals put forward. If implemented, such changes would apply from September next year and would mark a profound cultural change in the education system.

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