Hopefully, the rumours that George Osborne is to scrap national pay rates (NPRs) are true. When debating the future of NPRs, we need to make the moral case for their abolition and not just the economic one. NPRs directly make the poor worse off. To see how, let’s look at how NPRs affect education (at this point, I had better declare that I am a teacher in an Inner London state school).
Let’s take a typical teacher who has to choose between two teaching posts:
The first teaching post is in a tough inner city school. Levels of deprivation are high and children face ‘challenging’ home lives.
The second teaching post is in a small village school. Levels of deprivation are relatively low.
How desirable is each post? Because of NPRs both these schools pay broadly the same salary. However, living near the inner city school (due to housing costs) is much higher than living near the village school, meaning that the real income is significantly higher in the second post. In terms of the roles themselves, the first teaching post, due to the intake is likely to be a more challenging position (although perhaps more rewarding for some) than the second.
In effect, the first teaching post is a tougher job with less take home pay. Which post would teachers choose? No gold stars for working that one out.
In the real world, we are actually seeing the consequences of NPRs with far fewer teachers applying for deprived schools. The net result is that if you are poor, you are significantly less likely to have outstanding teachers and Cabinet Office research confirms this to be the case (please note that there are still many outstanding teachers in deprived schools but there are far fewer of them than there should be).
In education, NPRs make the poor worse off. This is a scandal and we need to make sure that this moral argument is made when making the case for scrapping NPRs.