From education to employment

Education unions highlight impact of teacher and funding shortages

teacher looking over students shoulder at work

Three education unions are joining forces at the Labour and Conservative conferences to highlight concern over the educational impact of teacher and funding shortages.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), school leaders’ union NAHT and the National Education Union (NEU) are holding fringe events which will discuss teacher pay, school budgets, and the rising cost of living.

The fringe events follow the government’s proposed below-inflation pay award of 5% for most school teachers and leaders this academic year. This will further cut pay in real terms following a decade of pay erosion, and it comes in the midst of a severe recruitment and retention crisis which has left most schools struggling to fill vacancies and put teachers in front of classes.

The government is not providing any additional funding to schools to enable them to afford the cost of this pay award which means that many will have to make cuts to educational provision in order to pay the award to their staff. Unless there is an urgent improvement in the funding settlement, this is likely to result in larger classes sizes, and cuts to the curriculum and extra-curricular activities.

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said:

“The issues of teacher pay, recruitment and retention, school funding, and pupil outcomes are all linked. Without adequate pay, we cannot recruit and keep the teachers we need, and without the money to pay them, schools will be unable to maintain current levels of provision and educational standards will be at risk.

“Every other plan and ambition to improve standards and the life chances of children and young people are dependent upon getting this right. And the situation facing post-16 education is even worse because of the total inadequacy of government funding over the past decade.”

NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said:

“School leaders are in an invidious position: they have been given yet another real-terms pay cut at the same time as their schools are plunged into a funding crisis through no fault of their own.

“Based on current projections, even with this year’s pay award, school leaders’ salaries will have lost about a quarter (24%)of their value since 2010. They are feeling demoralised and undervalued – but worse than that, they are finding themselves unable to provide the level of education and support for pupils that they know is needed, due to the massive cost pressures that keep piling on to school budgets.

“The spiralling energy bills, inflationary costs, and lack of funding for teachers’ pay this year means school leaders will be forced to make cuts that ultimately cannot help but negatively impact on the education and wellbeing of children. We urge all political parties to listen to the profession to truly understand the link between funding, pay, and children’s life chances, and to commit to making the investment into education that is so urgently needed.”

NEU Joint General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted said:

“Teaching is a great profession. However, after years of successive governments and numerous education secretaries, conditions, pay and school funding have so deteriorated that it is now one that many graduates are choosing not to enter or those currently teaching are choosing to leave. 

“Teachers’ pay has declined by around a fifth in real terms since 2010. This has had a long-term impact on recruitment and retention of teachers which in turn has a detrimental impact on children and young people’s education.

“Government needs to show that all teachers are valued, with the fully funded and undifferentiated inflation-plus pay increase for which the NEU is campaigning.”

Our full briefing paper can be read here.

The fringe events, ‘Why teachers’ pay and the cost of living crisis impact on education outcomes’, are being held at the Labour Conference on Monday 26 September, 1600-1730, Grace Suite 2, Hilton Liverpool; and the Conservative Conference on Monday 3 October. 1800-1930. Sonata Room, Hyatt, Birmingham.

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