Hinds: 2% pay rise for teachers would be 'affordable'

Schools can only afford to pay for a two per cent pay rise for teachers, the government has said, despite pressure from unions for an increase of five per cent.

Evidence submitted to the School Teachers’ Review Body by the education secretary Damian Hinds has said that a two per cent pay increase would be “affordable nationally, in the context of the cost pressures faced by schools and headroom available for increases in teachers’ pay”.

However, he would not guarantee that any pay rise will be funded by the government, and said: “Although the government provided funding, through a teachers’ pay grant, to support the implementation of the 2018 award, it should not be assumed this will be the case again for the 2019 award.”

The STRB is due to make its recommendation in May. The Association of School and College Leaders, National Association of Head Teachers, National Education Union and Voice called for a five per cent increase, fully-funded by government, in a joint statement submitted to the STRB on Monday.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, insisted “affordability should not be part of the STRB’s remit” and it should “not have its deliberations influenced in this way”.

“Following years of caps damaging to public sector pay, it is disgraceful for the government to impose another one, this time of two per cent,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, who said the “disgraceful move by the education secretary puts him at even greater odds with the profession he should be defending”.

Last year Hinds made the unprecedented move of ignoring the STRB’s recommendations of a 3.5 per cent pay rise across the board in 2018-19. Instead the highest rise went to early career teachers, while other teachers received a two per cent rise and leaders 1.5 per cent.

In his evidence to the STRB, published today, Hinds emphasised the importance of “ensuring the pay award does not place undue pressure on school budgets” and considering what else schools might like to invest in, including school improvement, continuing professional development and teaching resources.

He said analysis by the Department for Education demonstrates that costs could rise a further 0.6 per cent between 2018 and 2020 “before schools would face real term pressures”. This rise is equivalent to a two per cent increase per teacher pay from September 2019.

A spokesperson for the DfE said a two per cent increase “will be affordable within schools’ budgets and will be supported by the government’s proposals to fund increases in teachers’ pension employer contributions from September 2019.”

He added that the core schools budget will increase by 2.5 per cent next year.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: “To say that schools can now afford yet another unfunded cost pressure not only adds insult to injury but places educational standards at risk.”

He added that a two per cent pay award was “not only unaffordable but totally inadequate” and called for a fully-funded increase to reflect the “professionalism, commitment and sheer hard work of the teaching workforce.”

“Anything less is a kick in the teeth,” he said.