More affluent children’s GCSE exam results suffer thanks to centralised pay setting for teachers, new research from Bristol University shows.
The study analysed data from about 200,000 teachers in 3,000 state secondary schools that educate three million of England’s children per year.
The team found centralised pay setting meant schools in more affluent areas could not retain or recruit the best quality teachers.
Pay differentials across the country do not reflect regional differences in private sector wages. The average difference in teacher wage between the North East of England and Inner London, for example, is 9%, while the equivalent private sector wage difference is larger than 30%.
The findings will rekindle the row between the government and unions over the proposed abolition of national bargaining in favour of regional pay.
Teachers’ unions have warned of industrial action if there is any attempt to move away from national pay scales – on the grounds the reforms are likely to lead to wage cuts for teachers in deprived inner city areas, where the cost of living is lower. The School Teachers’ Review Body, an independent body appointed by the Government that reviews pay, is due to report next month.
Professor Carol Propper, an author of the study from Bristol University’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO), said: “Our findings present strong evidence that the centralised wage setting of teachers’ pay has a negative impact on pupils’ learning. Furthermore, the cost-benefit of removing centralised pay regulations means that the long-term gains from the removal of regulation could be very large.”
Prof Propper has also said that centralised pay regulation for nurses harmed patients: patients in hospitals where nurses’ wages were low compared to the general labour market were more likely to die after emergency admission for a heart attack.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association for School and College Leaders, doubted the conclusions of the study, telling The Independent: “A lot of research has been done about regional pay and nobody was able to find any evidence that regional pay would apply to teachers in this way.”