Education unions warn government proposals will short-change teachers

Four education unions are warning that government pay proposals would short-change most classroom teachers and all senior leaders.

In a joint submission to the independent pay review body, the unions – NEU, NAHT, Voice and ASCL – say government plans to address teacher shortages by boosting starting salaries to £30,000 must also include proposals to reverse the years of pay erosion for experienced staff.

The unions reject the current government proposals, under which two-thirds of classroom teachers and all school leaders would receive a pay increase of less than 3% despite having seen the real value of salaries fall by some 15% since 2010.

They agree a significant uplift is needed to starting and early career salaries to boost recruitment. But in joint evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), they say that a better deal is also needed for experienced staff in order to improve teacher retention.

The unions call for a significant pay increase for all teachers and leaders and for this to be fully funded by the government. They also call for the reinstatement of a national pay structure and pay scales and an end to performance-related pay. There is growing evidence that performance-related pay demotivates teachers and damages retention, and that a national pay structure would better support the profession.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Recruitment and retention problems affect the whole profession and we need a decent pay award for the whole profession, as the first step in the urgent restoration of the pay cuts teachers have suffered.”

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said: “Teachers and school leaders will regard it as a snub if they are given a pay award which fails to recognise their professionalism and commitment after years of pay erosion. We have to stop haemorrhaging experienced staff from the profession – not make matters worse.”

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “There is a direct link between pay and leadership supply. Decisive action is urgently needed if we are to have sufficient school leaders for the future. School leaders’ pay this year must begin to redress the real-terms losses they have endured over the past decade.”

Voice general secretary Deborah Lawson said: “Ongoing pay restraint is failing to incentivise high calibre graduates to enter and remain in the profession. What the profession urgently needs is a fully funded, profession-wide pay increase, coupled with a return to nationally recognised pay scales that will maintain pay differentials and retain experienced teachers in the profession.”

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