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Government issues remit for School Teachers’ Review Body to look at pay over next two years

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NAHT & NEU comments as government issues remit for School Teachers’ Review Body to look at pay over next two years

Commenting as the Department for Education (DfE) writes to the School Teachers’ Reviews Body (STRB) today to give them their remit to examine teacher and school leader pay for the next two years, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“School leaders and teachers alike will be justifiably angry that the Government’s remit for the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has only arrived after term has finished for most schools. The attempt to shuffle this disappointing remit into the pre-Christmas period will be regarded by many in the profession as, at best, showing a lack of understanding or care for hard working school leaders and teachers.

“The remit to look at pay across the next two years could be a good opportunity to look at teacher and leader pay from a longer-term perspective and make changes that will work for the profession. But with inflation rising rapidly, it is important that workers do not lose out by being locked in to below inflation rises for the next two years.

“While restarting the steps towards a £30,000 starting salary for newly qualified teachers is welcome, this remit continues to demonstrate government’s complacent attitude towards the retention of more experienced teachers and leaders that we have seen too often in the past.

“School leaders are increasingly difficult to recruit or retain – a recent NAHT survey showed that 53% of assistant and deputy heads do not aspire to headship, with pay playing an increasingly important part in those decisions. 44% of school leaders identified clearer pay progression as a key factor for improving the appeal of school leadership as a career choice.

“The STRB has recognised this repeatedly in the past but has been ignored by the government. The government cannot hide away from the STRB’s recommendations forever. The current situation where only a few experienced teachers want to step up to senior leadership positions and even fewer can be persuaded to take on the heavy responsibilities of headship is not sustainable.

“The proposals issued by the government today will actively make the position worse for leaders who have endured year after year of real-terms pay cuts with lower pay rises than their staff. The differential for leadership has been eroded by more than 4% over the last five years and overall leadership salaries have fallen in real terms consistently since 2010.

“One element of the STRB’s remit we completely reject is the instruction to look at affordability for the government – the implication being that there is no extra money to be given for teachers’ and leaders’ salaries. The STRB is not the body responsible for wider affordability calculations – it is solely there to recommend what is needed to ensure sufficient supply of both new teachers and experienced teachers moving through to leadership. If more money is what’s required to achieve that, then that is what the STRB must recommend.

“NAHT has also urged the government to instruct the STRB to carry out an equality pay assessment to ensure that women are not disadvantaged financially as they move into senior positions. Once again this call has been ignored.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Teacher recruitment has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels and teacher shortages exist across the curriculum. The impact of previous failures to recruit and retain are still being felt, including the loss of the skills of experienced teachers. We need to recruit and retain teachers across the curriculum to build a high-skill, high-wage economy and we can only do so by significantly improving pay for all teachers.

“And teacher retention is a huge problem too – with a third of beginner teachers leaving in the first five years in the profession.

“In this context the Secretary of State’s remit to the STRB is open but unclear.

“If he remains committed to implementing a £30,000 starting salary in two years’ time, that is welcome. That will require an 8% pay rise on starting salaries ​in 2022 and a further 8% in 2023.

“But we also need a pay structure that helps keep teachers in the profession thereafter. The Secretary of State refers to ‘significant, but sustainable, uplifts’ for other teachers. The NEU believes that these percentage increases are needed for other teachers as well to begin the process of restoring the huge real-terms pay cuts since 2010.

“However, the Government has already effectively set a much worse remit for the STRB through the Treasury’s evidence to the review bodies, which has been spun as a ‘warning shot’ to the STRB and the other review bodies not to recommend significant pay increases following the end of the public sector pay freeze. This is despite the huge real terms cuts to pay since 2010 and a pay freeze in 2021 when RPI inflation was at 4.9%. ​RPI is now at its highest for 30 years.

“The Government can afford to pay teachers properly and the country can’t afford it not to.

“The STRB must act independently and not follow the Government’s political choice to continue to hold down pay for teachers. Cuts to teacher pay damage education. The evidence is clear that cutting teacher pay against inflation has contributed to serious recruitment and retention problems as well as hitting teacher living standards. The STRB has already recognised that the competitiveness of teacher pay has been damaged. To have any credibility, the STRB must resist Government attempts to constrain it and must recommend a substantial pay increase for all teachers.

“We cannot allow teacher pay to continue to be cut in real terms and against other graduate professions. We must also see urgent action to reduce teacher workload. It’s time to Value Educators and Value Education.”

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