The UK teaching unions have joined together this week to condemn the one percent annual level pay increase suggested by the Department of Education and planned to extend for the next four years, calling the situation a 'national crisis.'
Incredibly they claim the rise in student numbers coupled with significant numbers of teachers leaving the profession- is likely to mean growing numbers of children in the UK will be taught by unqualified teachers.
The Guardian reports that the six boards made an unusual joint submission to the School Teachers Review Body, stating their concern regarding attracting and retaining staff while school budgets remain frozen for the next four years, meaning any pay increases will be expected to come from already overstretched school budgets.
The letter states, “the STRB must accept that we are facing a national crisis, not ‘a challenge’ in teacher supply, which means more children will not be taught by teachers qualified in the subject they teach... the public sector pay policy of the past five years has depressed teachers’ real earnings to the extent that recruitment and retention are being seriously harmed.”
The letter concludes by saying the Department of Education's published data “has failed to capture the scale of the crisis”.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders believes, "four more years of pay austerity is a false economy. We must be able to attract and retain the high-quality teachers and leaders we need to give young people a great education.”
The effects are being felt in the UAE too, Shaun Robison Project Head for Hartland Schools admits the crisis is all too real for those in the UK and has had, 'a knock on effect on international schools too.' He says, "teaching training has been the proverbial 'political football' for the past 5 years and we are now seeing the results of this - less quality teachers coming through and more unqualified teachers teaching children in the UK. Some schools are now recruiting a year in advance for positions to attract the best candidates."
He goes on to note, "we've seen this affect Dubai recently, with school postponing key appointments to ensure they find the right candidate. Due to the rapid expansion of British Curriculum schools in the UAE, there is a high demand for British teachers, however, local regulations within Dubai force new schools to recruit outside of the Emirate."
He believes as the pipeline of teachers dries-up, "schools have to look elsewhere, which often means compromising on the quality they seek. As the number of British curriculum schools increases, we (educators and invested stakeholders) need to find a better solution and that solution has to be rooted in teacher-training."