The leader of England’s largest education union has said there are “grounds to reopen” its pay and funding dispute after the government revised down per-pupil funding increases for next year after a funding gaffe.
The National Education Union was one of four unions that settled its dispute over pay with the Department for Education earlier this year, after teachers were offered a 6.5 per cent pay rise. The deal came with extra funding from the government to fund part of the rise.
But ministers admitted last night that per-pupil funding will rise by less than promised in July of this year, after they discovered a pupil number projections error that would have inflated the core schools budget by £370 million.
The reduction means an average secondary school will receive £58,000 less than they expected in 2024-25, while the average primary will be £12,000 worse-off.
In a video to members, NEU general secretary Daniel Kebede said they had settled the dispute “on the premise that there would be protections around pupil funding”.
“Our executive meet this Thursday and they will be discussing this issue. There are grounds to re-open our disputes. So I would really like you to keep in contact with the union via social media, via your rep, and via email, and I shall be in contact shortly.”
‘We cannot make any more cuts’
Kebede said he had been called into an emergency meeting with the DfE at 5.30pm last night where he was told of the funding miscalculation.
The DfE had told schools per-pupil funding would rise by 2.7 per cent next year, but yesterday revised this down to 1.9 per cent.
Kebede said the 2.7 per cent pledged in July was already “grossly inadequate in the context of schools operating in an inflationary crisis in which prices are still in excess of 7 per cent”.
“What this means is that schools are going to have to find cuts of £370 million.”
He warned schools “don’t have the resources that we need to teach effectively and of course all of this is happening in the context of a deep and severe recruitment and retention crisis in which a million children are now taught in class sizes of 31 or more”.
“We quite simply cannot make any more cuts.”