Education trade unions are urging the Government to give teachers an immediate 5% pay rise after seven years of real terms cuts.
In a letter to Education Secretary Justine Greening, they warned that holding down pay has hit the supply of teachers.
The Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers, the National Education Union, UCAC, and Voice, said teachers' pay levels have fallen behind that of other graduate professions.
The letter said: "After seven years of real terms cuts in the value of pay due to the Government's public sector pay policy, we believe that a significant pay increase is now required for all teachers and school leaders.
"The situation is now so critical that it requires firm and decisive action. In order to support and secure recruitment and retention, teachers' pay levels must be restored at least to the levels that existed before the start of pay restraint in 2010.
"We believe that teachers must be given an immediate pay rise of 5% in 2018 as a step towards this.
"It is absolutely essential that all pay rises, including any increases in costs, are fully met by additional Government funding given the reality that 88% of schools in England and all maintained schools in Wales currently face further real terms cuts over the life of this Parliament."
Leaders of other public sector workers, including NHS staff and council employees are also pressing for the controversial cap on public sector pay to be lifted.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "It is vital that we have the best people teaching in our schools if we are to raise standards and ensure all pupils can reach their full potential.
"Over the past four years teachers' pay has been fundamentally reformed, based on recommendations by an independent School Teachers Review body.
"We are investing £1.3 billion up to 2020 to attract the best and brightest into teaching, head teachers have greater freedom to offer competitive starting salaries and teachers' pay is now linked to performance to pay good teachers more."