The joint response to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) report from the ASCL, NAHT, NEU and Voice Community underlines the profession's opposition to the Government's imposition of a pay freeze on teachers and school leaders. There is no justification for the pay freeze, which has been greeted with dismay by teachers and school leaders. They have made an immense contribution to the country's pandemic response, but instead of supporting them the Government continues its attacks on their pay.
With RPI inflation at almost 4% and fears that it will go even higher, teachers and school leaders face yet another significant real-terms pay cut on top of the huge real-terms cuts of the 2010s. As pay recovers in the wider economy, the competitiveness of teacher and school leader pay will be hit hard. As we emerge from the pandemic we need to improve teacher and school leader supply - but the significant recruitment and retention problems which continue to affect the profession will be made worse by the attacks on the real and comparative value of their pay.
Alongside the urgent need to restore the value of teacher and school leader pay, we are calling for restoration of a fair national pay structure and the end of performance-related pay (PRP). PRP and the dismantling of the national pay structure were imposed on the profession, have contributed to the development of serious teacher supply issues and are opposed by teachers and school leaders. PRP is unjustified and unfair - it has contributed to the serious concerns on pay equality highlighted by the STRB. PRP and the excessive accountability regime also contribute to the serious workload problems faced by teachers and school leaders. Instead of PRP, teachers and school leaders need fair pay and supportive appraisal.
Teachers and school leaders continue to support the country's response to the pandemic, but they get no support from the Government. Instead of pay cuts, PRP and sky-high workload they need fair pay and proper support, including reduced workload.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Teachers and school leaders are key workers who have shown their value to the country during the pandemic and will be essential to the recovery from the pandemic. The Government must change course and support them instead of attacking their pay.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“Pay for experienced teachers and leaders has been severely eroded over the past decade, while at the same time they have been asked to take on more and more. Ultimately the government has a very simple task: pay these people properly for the essential work they do.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Lecturers, said:
“The Government has dealt a body blow to the morale of teachers with its decision to freeze pay. Its short-sightedness further reduces the incentive for people to join or remain in the profession and puts at risk the supply line of teachers which is essential for our schools to deliver a high-quality education to children and young people.”
Deborah Lawson, community assistant general secretary of Voice Community Section, said:
“The ongoing pay freeze means there is no financial incentive to remain in the profession or to join it. As key workers, teachers and school leaders must be supported and rewarded for their dedication and sacrifice throughout the pandemic – which is still not over. They are demoralised and exhausted, crushed by the ongoing weight of workload and the huge demands made of them, both at the height of the pandemic and to deliver education recovery. They deserve fair pay and reduced workload, not a pay freeze.”
Today is the deadline for responses to the STRB report. Read the joint union response below.