Government's plan for teachers' pay risks funding crisis, say unions

By Christy Cooney
BBC News

  • Published
A teacher seen teaching a classImage source, Getty Images

Education unions have accused the government of risking a "full-blown funding crisis" for schools with their latest offer on teachers' pay.

The Department for Education has announced a rise of 5% for teachers and more for early-career salaries.

Five unions representing the majority of teachers said the plans would put pressure on stretched school budgets and exacerbate staffing shortages.

The government has described the offer as the most generous for years.

The proposal would see all teachers who have been in the profession more than five years receive a 5% rise in the next academic year.

Those in the first five years of their career would get between 5% and 8%, while new starters outside of London would get 8.9%.

UK inflation, the rate at which prices rise, jumped to 9.4% in the 12 months to June from 9.1% in May, according to the latest figures.

A joint statement criticising the plans has been released by 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.

It said that inflation meant the rise represented a real-terms cut to the salaries of most teachers and would worsen staff shortages already affecting the "vast majority" of schools.

It is also expected that schools will not receive additional money to fund the rise, and will have to cover it out of their existing budgets.

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that, even with the rise, the real value of teachers' will have fallen by 12% since 2010.

Announcing the proposals on Tuesday, the government said they aimed to "strike a careful balance between recognising the vital importance of public sector workers, whilst delivering value for the taxpayer and managing the broader economic context".

It added that "double-digit pay awards for public sector workers would lead to sustained higher levels of inflation" and that "this would have a far bigger impact on people's real incomes in the long run".

It also said the next financial year would see the core schools budget rise by £1.5bn, on top of an increase of £4bn that went into this year's budget.

Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said the government was "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".

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: "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."

The NEU and ASCL have both said they will be consulting with their members over industrial action in the autumn.

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