From education to employment

Education Secretary Discusses Pay with Unions

Gillian Keegan

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, has met up with education unions to discuss the topic of pay.

Sector Response

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

“We are pleased that the Education Secretary convened today’s meeting with education unions. The meeting was constructive but largely unsatisfactory in that our concerns over the long-term erosion of teacher pay and conditions, the inadequacy of this year’s pay award, and the ongoing teacher recruitment and retention crisis, remain unresolved.

“We are pleased that there was at least a commitment from the Education Secretary to look jointly at our respective submissions to the pay review body for next year’s school teacher pay award. However, that does not address the shortcomings with this year’s below-inflation award, or the fact that leader and teacher pay has fallen in real terms by a fifth since 2010. We cannot go on like this. The government missed its target for recruiting trainee secondary teachers by 40% this year, and nearly a third of teachers leave the profession within five years of qualifying. It is increasingly difficult for schools to be able to put teachers in front of classes. Pay and conditions must be improved together with sufficient funding for schools to be able to afford these costs.

“We are expecting further talks to take place in the near future, and we sincerely hope that these issues can be resolved through discussion rather than industrial action. However, these talks must lead to a positive outcome.”

Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union, said: 

“We met the Secretary of State for Education today alongside other union leaders.

“It is welcome that a meeting was held – and we believe that union ballots were crucial in the meeting taking place. 

“There is a promise of further discussions both on the Government’s evidence to the STRB for next year and on changes to pay during this year.

“There is no concrete progress but the existence of these discussions is due to the possibility of industrial action. We have offered to clear our diaries for such talks, but we have no dates yet.

“However, the Department for Education was definitely downplaying the prospects of movement this year – and wasn’t at all specific about next year.

“If the Government wants to avoid industrial action then there is only a small window of opportunity before the NEU declares its ballot result and its plans for action.

“No one wants to strike and the Government can avoid it by talking and making concrete progress on pay.

“There is a big problem in teacher and support staff recruitment and retention in schools, sixth forms and nurseries.

“There will have to be a correction on pay levels to avoid growing problems in our schools. We believe the Government knows this – the only question is how much damage is caused to education before the Government acts.

“We urge all NEU members to vote in our ballot – we need to keep the pressure up.”

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“There is no doubt that the conclusion of industrial action ballots of teachers over pay this week is what has brought the minister to the table with us today.

“Today’s talks about talks centred around the scope for future discussions on issues of concern to our members on pay, including the current pay award for 2022/23 and the award for 2023/24.

“We welcome commitments made by the minister to continue dialogue with us following months of refusal by her predecessors.

“Given the pressing issues, the minister must now intensify and accelerate a programme of further talks.

“We have been clear we will meet any time and any place to discuss these issues and that we will commit the time necessary to make progress.

“However, we will remain in dispute with the Government unless tangible progress is forthcoming.”

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