Jam tomorrow, not today on teacher pay?

Teacher in class Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Teaching is a graduate level profession

No one would argue that a good education does not transform the life chances of a child.

So why are some children getting better access to educational opportunities?

The analysis by Alan Milburn and others in the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which we're reporting today, largely echoes the concerns raised by Ofsted in its annual report.

It also chimes closely with government policy on the solution - the much disputed idea that making schools into academies is the key route to success.

The evidence suggests the picture is far more mixed - partly because schools have converted in very different circumstances.

As Health Secretary, Alan Milburn introduced Foundation Trust hospitals which have a similar autonomous public sector status as academies.

Recruitment struggles

But there is one sharp note of dissonance over teachers' pay, where the report warns pay for teachers starting out in the profession is falling behind other graduate jobs in the UK, as well as new teachers in similar developed economies.

The midpoint - or median - starting salary for top graduate jobs has been £30,000 this year compared to £27,800 in London and around £5,000 less in other parts of the country for teachers.

This prod to up the wages of new teachers from the Commission, comes as the body which advises the government on school teachers' pay starts to process the flurry of submissions it receives at this time of year.

Not surprisingly, those from the teaching unions are united in calling for pay rises above the limit of an average 1% in public pay set out by George Osborne's recent spending review.

The unions point to struggles with recruiting teachers and the strong anecdotal evidence from head teachers that it is becoming harder to appoint good quality candidates, particularly where they are most needed.

So what's the government likely to do?

Budging on pay isn't likely, although it could face growing discord across the teaching profession.

An elite cohort of 1,500 teachers is to be recruited for areas where schools are underperforming.

Longer term reward

But many believe they will have to be deployed in clusters of schools to be effective.

And most of all, ministers will be trying to sell the longer term benefits of the profession in terms of satisfaction and long term pay prospects.

International research suggests teachers taking on more responsibility end up paid reasonably well in the longer term compared to other countries.

That may not be enough to avoid the pay review body repeating the warning of its last report that there are increasing difficulties in recruiting enough teachers to match the rising pupil numbers.

It's less likely to go as far as the unions would like, and recommend the government makes an exception to public pay restraint for the teachers.

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