Teachers and school leaders have accused the Government of putting schools “on the brink of a full-blown funding crisis” with their offer on teacher pay.
Five education unions, representing the vast majority of teachers and school leaders across England, have warned that the Government’s pay award will be damaging to education, exacerbating the recruitment crisis while schools are burdened with additional costs at a time of rising inflation.
This week, the Government announced a 8.9% pay rise for early career teachers and a 5% rise for more experienced staff in 2022-23 but schools will need to fund the rise out of their existing budgets.
The Association for School and College Leaders (ASCL), the NAHT school leaders’ union, the NEU and NASUWT teaching unions, and Community, the union for education professionals, have issued a joint criticism of the proposals, arguing that with RPI inflation already at 11.8% the awards represent a pay cut.
They say this will make it more difficult to recruit staff and put pressure on stretched school budgets.
Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said that the Government had “managed at a single stroke to put schools on the brink of a full-blown funding crisis”.
He added: “It is a masterclass in mismanagement that puts educational standards at risk.”
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “This pay award fails to address any of the problems. The higher starting salaries for early careers teachers have been promised since 2019 and yet recruitment targets continue to be missed.”
He said the award would do little to stem the loss of experienced staff while the failure to fund the proposed rises would put school budgets under pressure.
“This is no way to ensure that children receive the quality of education they deserve. It is a reckless gamble with the future of the country,” he said.
Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The Government is being dishonest with the profession and with the public by offering the illusion of a pay award whilst in reality they are refusing to provide the means for schools to deliver it.
“By failing to give schools additional funding whilst also rejecting the reintroduction of national pay scales, the Government is subjecting hundreds of thousands of hard-working and dedicated teachers to a pay lottery.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said the “huge real terms pay cut” would hit teacher and school leader living standards “hard when they are already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis”.
“This will intensify the recruitment and retention crisis, damaging education. The Government must value teachers and school leaders instead of cutting their pay and subjecting them to excessive workload.”
Helen Osgood, Community’s national officer, said the proposals were a “huge blow to the profession” and criticised the fact that the Government’s manifesto pledge of starting salaries of £30,000 had not been met. Starting salaries will be £28,000 in 2022-3.
“This means four years have passed since this promise was made. It’s immoral to treat people like this, constantly dangling the carrot and never delivering on their promises,” she said.
The NEU and ASCL have said they will be consulting with their members over industrial action in the autumn.