Joint media release from ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU and Community

Five education unions – representing the vast majority of teachers and school leaders in England – have expressed grave concerns over the potential damage to the country’s education system of the government’s botched teacher pay award for 2022/23.

The pay award represents a significant real-terms cut to the salaries of most teachers and all school leaders, putting at further risk the supply line of staff on which schools depend. The pay award is on top of other inflationary pressures such as soaring energy costs. It is quite clear that the pay award must be fully funded for it to have any impact, but all indications are that it will not be.

While the pay award includes higher uplifts to starting salaries, the majority of teachers and school leaders have been offered a 5% pay increase which is substantially below the rate of inflation, currently 11.8% on the RPI measure. This comes after a pay freeze in 2021/22 and pay erosion since 2010 which has already seen a real-terms cut in salaries of 20%. 

This contributes to very severe teacher shortages which are affecting the vast majority of schools. The government routinely misses its own targets for recruiting trainee teachers, and 40% of teachers leave the profession within 10 years of qualifying.

Schools will have to foot the bill for the pay award from budgets which are already under severe strain. This follows a decade of real-terms cuts. The current funding settlement dates from last autumn and therefore does not take into account the massive hike in inflation now hitting schools. The award is higher than the Department for Education itself deemed affordable in its evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body, so it beggars belief that it comes with no additional funding.

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

“The government has managed at a single stroke to put schools on the brink of a full-blown funding crisis while also further damaging the teacher supply line on which they depend. It is a masterclass in mismanagement that puts educational standards at risk.”

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of NAHT, 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. The below inflation pay award after a decade of cuts will do little to stem the loss of experienced teachers and leaders. And the failure to fund schools properly means that school budgets will be under further 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.”

Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT, 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 re-introduction of national pay scales, the government is subjecting hundreds of thousands of hardworking and dedicated teachers to a pay lottery.”

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

“The government is attempting to impose another huge real terms pay cut, hitting 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, National Officer at Community: the union for education professionals, said:

“It is very disappointing that the government manifesto pledge of achieving £30,000 starting salaries for early careers teachers has still not been achieved and will not be achieved until 2023. This will come as a huge blow to the profession, who have for some time been expecting the Conservative government to live up to their manifesto pledge. 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.”