United Learning, one of the largest academy chains, is breaking the government’s pay ceiling for public sector workers, to attract the best teachers.
United Learning, which employs about 3,000 teachers in its 25 academies, is offering teachers a 1.5% pay rise, The Independent reports. The chain is also offering all new recruits 5% more than they would receive on the current teachers’ salary scale.
The chain is using the freedoms that the government gave academies over how they spend their budget. Jon Coles, a former DfE civil servant, is now chief executive of United Learning: “The Chancellor has said he wants to see [pay rises of] no more than 1% for public service employees. We don’t agree with that,” he said, “Part of our job is to make sure there is good value for public money; we believe we need to attract great teachers and the only way to do that is to make sure we offer an attractive package for teachers to come to our schools.”
The decision is an interesting one for the Coalition; while Michael Gove supports academies having as much freedom as possible, Chancellor George Osborne wants strict adherence to public sector pay curbs. It also poses a dilemma for teaching unions, who have largely opposed the growth in academies but can now see them offering their members better wages than they would earn on the normal pay scales.
Lower paid non-teaching staff will also benefit from better pay and an increased employer contribution to their pensions.
Do you agree with United Learning that the ‘only way’ to attract great teachers is through higher pay? Will other academies follow their example – and if they do, what will the effect be on schools?