The education minister criticized comments about teachers’ pay

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has been criticized for saying that a teacher’s salary is in the top 10% of earners in some parts of the country.

Taking questions from teachers and parents on LBC radio on Wednesday, she said the government had agreed to union demands to increase funding for schools, but was told that was not enough and that conditions were changing too would have to change.

Ms Keegan, who grew up in Knowsley and ran as the Conservative Party candidate in St Helens South & Whiston in the 2015 general election, said: “We’ve increased the starting salary because we need to attract graduates, £28,000 for someone starting straight uni and that will be £30,000 by 2024.

“My cousin has just started teaching and she has £28,000. She is 23 and lives in Knowsley, Merseyside. She is single and lives with her mother and father, but in reality she is fine careerit’s probably in the top 10% of earners in some parts of the country.”

However, a teacher from Bromley, Kent, replied: ‘The fact that teachers are among the higher paid civil servants in this country, as a lower paid economy, I find more shameful than anything to celebrate.

“I know how far my salary goes each month, I know a lot of people who are second and third tier jobs because they can’t make ends meet.

“If you live at home and have no expenses or children, that money doesn’t have to be used to pay a mortgage. If you write the numbers down on a piece of paper, they don’t add up.”

She said she voted to go on strike: “It’s a very difficult thing, you chose this job because you want to make a difference in people’s lives and the last thing you want to do is not to show up work.”

Teachers’ unions NASUWT, National Education Union and National Association of Head Teachers are all voting members in strike action in England and Wales, while the Association of School and College Leaders has launched a consultative vote.

Results are expected in January, and if teachers vote to go on strike, they will join paramedics, nurses, postal and rail workers, and border force workers who are retiring this month.

Ms Keegan said: “I hope the teachers don’t vote to go on strike, but that is their right. What we’re trying to do is make sure we’re not baking in inflation.

“If we can stabilize the economy, we will see inflation fall next year. It’s really serious because you can’t spend, you’re going to end up with an inflationary spiral and if you spend any extra money it’s just going to be eaten up by rent and stuff.”

She said an extra £2billion had been made available for schools in the autumn statement, but a Birmingham teacher said: ‘It’s not just about the money, it’s about the conditions.

“Teachers are leaving in droves, compared to inflation and 12 years of austerity it’s still not enough.”

In response to a question from a parent from Hackney, east London, with a deaf child if she would commit to more special needs funding, Ms Keegan said: “We want to make sure £400million is used for higher needs.

“That goes to the local authority and there was a problem with not enough spaces so we invested an extra £2.6billion.

“We have a problem with special educational needs. Some people get expensive facilities that councils pay for, and others are on waiting lists to get into a school. We have a green paper that will be published next year.” The education minister criticized comments about teachers’ pay

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