Commenting on the publication last night of Gillian Keegan’s remit letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) in England, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"Gillian Keegan’s remit letter to the STRB has finally been issued, over a month later than last year’s remit letter and at the very end of the school term. This is despite her commitment, made when settling our pay dispute in the summer, to align the timing of the STRB process with the school budget cycle. The Government has once again shown its contempt for the profession.
"Not only is the remit letter late, but it is also completely inadequate. The Government is again attempting to constrain the STRB by forcing it to work within the existing inadequate funding envelope. It is clear that the Government is gearing up for a paltry 1-2% teacher pay award next year. The Autumn Statement ignored the joint call from the NEU, ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT for a funding increase of at least £1.7 billion in 2024-25. Without significant additional investment in education, the recruitment and retention crisis will not be tackled and teachers will not be properly valued.
"Since 2010, the real value of teacher pay against RPI inflation has been cut by some 25%. The relative value of teacher pay in the wider economy has also been cut, with average teacher pay increases between 2010-11 and 2022-23 of just 16% compared to a 39% increase for average earnings as a whole. We will not recruit and retain the teachers and school leaders we need unless we properly value them. The focus of the STRB’s remit should be on repairing the damage to teacher living standards and the competitiveness of teacher pay. An urgent, properly funded and major correction in teacher pay should be the centrepiece of the STRB’s remit. Yet the key issue of repairing the damage to teacher pay and living standards does not feature at all in Gillian Keegan’s remit letter.
"The inclusion in the remit of a so-called ‘targeted’ approach to pay is a matter of great concern. ‘Targeted’ pay approaches ignore the need for a correction in teacher pay applied across the board, to reflect the system-wide recruitment and retention problems shown by the failure to recruit to target in 15 out of 18 secondary subjects. ‘Targeted’ approaches to pay will not solve the teacher shortages that exist across the curriculum and will make retention problems worse by angering those teachers who do not benefit. The dismantling of national pay arrangements has already resulted in less fairness and transparency, contributing to the damaged position of teaching in the graduate labour market. To support recruitment and retention we need a fair, transparent national pay structure with a clear and significant pay correction for all teachers and school leaders, not further tinkering and complications.
“There are opportunities from projected falls in pupil numbers to enhance the quality of education and support children receive, as well as for teacher workload and wellbeing. Government and STRB should absolutely not conclude this context means pay can be held down even longer and the size of the workforce can be shrunk.
"The inadequacy of the review body process has been laid bare. The NEU will continue to ensure that the voice of teachers and school leaders is heard loud and clear – and that voice will not be gagged by Government proposals to restrict our members’ right to strike. We will continue to make the evidence-based case for the properly funded pay correction needed to ensure that teachers are paid fairly. Better pay for teachers is essential to solving the recruitment and retention crisis, so our campaign for fair pay for teachers is also in the interests of parents and young people.”