Minister says teachers' wages in Bristol area are too low
TEACHERS in the Bristol area could be in line for a pay rise after ministers said their wages weren't high enough.
The government said the region – North Somerset in particular – was one of the "hotspots" where teachers are paid much less than they could earn in the private sector.
This means they would be likely to be the big winners of a controversial shake-up of the way that public servants are paid.
Ministers want to set public sector pay on a local, rather than national, basis, believing the public sector is "crowding out" private growth in some parts of the UK. They say that inflated public wages make it impossible for businesses to recruit bright candidates.
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This has caused uproar in areas like the North East and Wales, where unions say it would lead to years of pay freezes and a "two-tier" public sector.
But documents submitted to the Treasury by Education Secretary Michael Gove suggest it would be good news for teachers in the Greater Bristol area.
The difference is most pronounced in North Somerset, where teachers earn around 78 per cent of the equivalent private sector job, the report says, while in somewhere like Darlington, in the North East, this figure is 120 per cent.
South Gloucestershire (91 per cent) and Bristol (97 per cent) are also areas where classroom pay is lagging behind. In Bath & North East Somerset the two rates are almost identical.
Mr Gove wants to go further than the 'local pay' switch by handing each school the power to set teachers' pay, believing this would give headteachers more flexibility to raise the profile of under-performing schools.
He said: "The current pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate. It does not support schools to recruit and retain the high quality teachers or leaders they need to address specific shortages and benefit their pupils."
Charlotte Leslie, the Conservative MP for Bristol North West, recently called for more flexibility in setting teachers' pay.
She said: "Broadly I agree with Michael Gove. I think it's right to give the profession more control over pay."
But his proposal is likely to spark a fresh row with teaching unions and raise the prospect of strikes.
Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "National pay scales for teachers give a transparency and ensure much greater fairness and non-discrimination than pay levels determined at school level, and should remain. Education is a nationally delivered service so local pay for a teacher is completely inappropriate."