Union letter to Hinds on School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) Remit

We have read your remit letter of 21 November to the Chair, School Teachers’ Review Body and wish to raise a number of concerns about its contents.

The STRB has raised serious concerns on teacher recruitment and retention in its previous reports, even going so far as to say they create “a real risk that schools will not be able to recruit and retain a workforce of high quality teachers to support pupil achievement” (STRB 27th Report, Executive Summary, page ix).

We hope you would agree that the STRB should be allowed to make the recommendations it believes to be appropriate on the basis of the evidence. The NFER in its recent report noted that: “Rising pupil numbers, shortfalls in the number of trainee teachers and concerns about the proportion of teachers who say they are considering leaving the profession means that teacher supply in the state sector is a major policy issue in England” (NFER, Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England, October 2018, page 1).  But, in making unspecified references to affordability, your remit letter seems designed to constrain the STRB even before it begins work.

We believe this to be completely inappropriate. Decisions on affordability are for Government to make. 

The STRB will be undertaking its work at the same time as consultations and decisions are taking place within Government on the 2019 Spending Review.  

Teacher pay is a substantial part of public spending on education, and the Government therefore has the opportunity this year to hear the views of its independent advisers before taking its decisions on public spending including teachers’ pay.

This year, more than any other, the STRB should not be subjected to artificial constraints in considering the issues before it and making its recommendations to Government. 

Given that education spending depends on the outcomes of the Spending Review, the STRB cannot in any case be in possession of the full facts on funding when formulating its views.  

You also plan to issue a further remit letter to the STRB in 2019, with a separate reporting deadline, on possible reform of the teacher pay framework.  This could also have implications stretching well beyond the 2019-20 academic year. 

We believe, therefore, that it is completely inappropriate to seek to constrain the STRB in its work for the 2019-20 pay round. 

As Secretary of State for Education, your responsibility is to secure the additional investment for education that is needed to respond effectively to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. 

Instead of seeking to constrain the STRB on affordability, you should be highlighting to colleagues in Government the serious and widespread teacher recruitment and retention problems reported by the STRB and pressing for urgent additional investment in education.

Please confirm to us that you are willing to amend this inappropriate remit.

 

Yours sincerely

Kevin Courtney                                                        Mary Bousted

Joint General Secretary                                          Joint General Secretary     

National Education Union                                      National Education Union