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ASCL members overwhelmingly reject government’s pay and conditions offer

empty lecture

ASCL members have voted to reject the pay and conditions offer made by the government following recent talks with education unions over the industrial dispute triggered by the inadequacy of this year’s pay award.

The government offered an extra funded £1,000 one-off payment in 2022/23, a 4.5% average pay award for 2023/24, with 4% funding provided from school budgets, and 0.5% from additional government funding, and some non-pay measures.

A condition of the offer was that unions presented the offer to members with either a positive recommendation or neutrally – that is without any recommendation. ASCL presented the offer neutrally via a member vote conducted last week.

56% of eligible members responded, with 13% of these voting ‘yes’ to the offer, and 87% voting ‘no’. We asked a supplementary question of those voting ‘no’ asking them to state the most significant factor for their response. The results were:

  • Inadequacy of the pay offer (for 2022-23, 2023-24, or both) – 29%
  • Inadequacy of the additional funding provided to schools for a 4.5% pay award in 2023/24 – 69%
  • Inadequacy of the other measures – 2%

ASCL’s Executive Committee will now reconvene shortly after the Easter break to consider our next steps in light of this vote.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“The government’s pay offer is inadequate in every respect. It fails to address long-term pay erosion, the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, or provide enough funding for schools to be able to afford even the meagre pay award that is on the table. Talks with the government were immensely frustrating and it took an eternity to inch towards this lacklustre set of proposals. Ultimately all we could do is put it to members and let them decide. It is no surprise that they have overwhelmingly rejected the offer.

“Our members will have had in mind a mixture of reasons for rejecting the offer, but we asked them to say which is the single most significant reason, and for many this is the lack of sufficient funding. They will certainly be hugely concerned too about the failure of the pay offer itself to address recruitment and retention, but the immediate problem is the prospect of not being able to afford to pay it to their staff without having to make cuts elsewhere.

“We will now meet with our senior elected members on our Executive Committee after the Easter break to discuss what action we take next. We are aware that there will be speculation about whether we will move to a formal ballot on industrial action, a step we have not yet taken because we have been focused on trying to resolve this situation through negotiation. This is certainly an option that will be discussed but we would emphasise that no decision on this front has been taken in either direction. It would clearly be much better for all concerned if the government responds with an improved pay offer and puts an end to the industrial dispute.

“The background to this dispute is not only the inadequacy of this year’s pay award but real terms pay cuts over the past decade which have contributed to a recruitment and retention crisis that has left virtually every school and college in the country struggling with teacher shortages. The education system cannot continue to limp on without its single most important resource – enough teachers. The government must act for the good of staff and children.”

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