Keegan: ‘Hard to guarantee’ we’ll fully fund teacher pay rise

Education secretary says it will be 'difficult' for government to raid its own budget again, but says she will 'take on challenge'

Education secretary says it will be 'difficult' for government to raid its own budget again, but says she will 'take on challenge'

The education secretary has said it will be “hard to guarantee” that government would fully fund a teacher pay rise, despite schools struggling with budget squeezes.

Gillian Keegan asked about pay and school funding during a Q&A webinar this afternoon, amid concerns schools don’t have enough to cover even this year’s rise.

Six of the most liked questions were about school funding.

One attendee said they had worked in school finance for 25 years and “never known us to be this short of funding before”.

“Can you assure us that the next round of teacher and support staff pay increased will the fully funded?” Keegan was asked.

She said after taking the job in October 2022, she had faced two pay “challenges” – funding rises of 5.4 per cent for the 2022-23 academic year and 6.5 per cent for this year.

“Both of those challenges were put to me then and I got the additional funding to make sure that schools are fully funded for those pay rises.

“The difficulty in answering the question right now is, obviously I need to be given the challenge first, which is what [the School Teachers’ Review Body] will come back with. And then we need to figure out what that is and how we can fund that.

“I guess what I would say is I have a track record. But it’s hard to guarantee because I don’t know what they’re going to come back with.”

But “one thing I do know is to fund it last time, we really had to look at into the department’s budget”.

“We didn’t get additional funding from the Treasury because of all the other difficulties they had. We did the year before, we got an additional £2 billion.

“But this last year, we had to find it within the department. So we prioritised some things and you know, moved some capital into revenue that we thought we wouldn’t utilise, But once you’ve done that, it’s difficult to do it again.”

However she added: “I will take on the challenge as I have done the last few years.”

Schools Week has revealed how the department is facing finding at least £1 billion from its budget to fund both this and next year’s pay rises.

Several government schemes have already been axed or scaled back.

Meanwhile, schools are reporting a funding squeeze. A Schools Week investigation in February found many reporting “severe hardship” this year.

Another report found three-quarters of primaries had cut teaching assistants.

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  1. Donna Bentham

    She was asked about teachers AND support staff but as usual replied about teachers only. Support staff are relegated to the back burners yet again. It’s a fact teachers cannot do their jobs without support staff so give them the pay and recognition they deserve not the pay cuts we have had for over 10 years now.

  2. Gladys

    Teachers earn enough for what they do. There are other professions that work far harder, longer, and in more difficult circumstances. That encounter far more risk day to day and have to use more critical thinking and reactive skills. Newly qualifieds teacher’s now earn £30k. Time for other public services to catch up. What teachers fail to realise is the positives of their jobs. To be able to park, for free at your place of work. To not be working in your place of work for 14 hours. To not work nights (Which science proves can knock 10 years off your life span), To not work Christmas, bank holidays, weekends. To not have childcare access because you work so early/finish so late. To not be dealing with trauma. To be under the constant pressure of making the wrong turn and you or who you are taking care of can die. To put yourself in harm’s way.. guns, knives, fire, assaults, bodily fluids, handling harmful toxics. The stress and expense of holiday club childcare. The registration fees. The life long learning done in your own time. To have snow days, inset days, moving out days. Unfortunately, if teachers left school as they never have, they would see what it is like to work in more difficult circumstances and in toxic cultures. Whatvteachers don’t realise is, there are so many professions that have to do a lot of unpaid work in their own time, week in week out. For some reason, teacher’s think they have the monopoly on this and I can assure you, they absolutely do not! So whilst teaching might not be easy, the perks are huge, including the money considering the perks.