Further teacher strikes are on the cards after unions criticised an “inadequate” pay offer from the government, which they warn is not fully funded.
Gillian Keegan has said her offer of a one-off payment this academic year and a 4.3 per cent rise for most teachers next year is “final”.
Unions have put the education secretary’s offer to their members, but warned of further strikes and ballots if it is rejected.
Here’s what you need to know.
What has been offered?
- A one-off payment in 2022-23
- A 4.3 per cent rise for most teachers and 7.1 per cent rise in starting salaries in 2023-24 (averaging 4.5 per cent across the whole workforce)
The Department for Education (DfE) also made other promises
- Removal of the statutory requirement to use performance-related pay
- “Greater clarity” on when schools should expect their next inspection
- Reinsertion of tasks teachers should not ordinarily be expected to do
- A workload taskforce aimed at cutting five hours a week
- Alignment of the school teachers’ review body process with the school budget cycle
- A review of complaints procedures for parents and Ofsted’s complaints process for schools (these have already been pledged)
Is extra funding attached?
The DfE has said the one-off payment would be funded via a grant to schools, as will 0.5 per cent of the average 4.5 per cent pay rise for next year. Additional funding would total £620 million next year and £150 million the following year to cover ongoing costs.
However, the remaining 4 per cent of next year’s pay offer will have to come from existing budgets.
The DfE pointed to £2 billion extra funding for this year and next that was allocated in the autumn statement. In February, the government said schools could afford a 3.5 per cent rise.
But it has now revised down its estimate for the additional cost of energy bills next year, from £1.45 billion to £750 million.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said some of the cash to fund public sector pay deals would come from the Treasury, but it is not clear how much.
What have the unions said?
All four unions – the NEU, NAHT, ASCL and NASUWT – are consulting members.
The NEU, whose members began industrial action in February, has urged members to reject the offer in the “strongest possible way”. Leaders warned it was “not fully funded” and “insulting”.
If members vote to reject the offer, the union has said it will call two further days of action on April 27 and May 2.
NAHT, the school leaders’ union, has also warned that industrial action “will be necessary” if members rejected the offer. It said it did not believe that “sufficient funding is being made available to meet even this inadequate offer”.
The NASUWT is “not recommending acceptance” of the offer, saying it “falls short” of what it demanded on pay and other improvements.
ASCL has been more reserved, with general secretary Geoff Barton saying the union would put it to members “in a neutral capacity”.
Some schools will struggle more than others
Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found school funding overall will continue to grow faster than costs, even if the new pay offer is implemented.
However, research fellow Luke Sibieta said costs would rise faster than funding in some schools, such as special institutions that relied on more support staff. This would also be a problem in London, where there were more inexperienced teachers whose pay would rise by more.
Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the NEU, warned that “using universal totals to speak to individual school leaders about individual affordability, is economic nonsense”.
The IFS has said that even with the pay offer, salaries for experienced teachers would be 13 per cent lower than in 2010.
The government said that its offer was above the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) 2.9 per cent forecast for inflation at the end of this calendar year. But unions warned higher prices were already baked in for teachers and schools.
What happens now?
Unions are expected to say next week whether their members accept or reject the offer.
If it is rejected, the government has said it will revert to the school teachers’ review body process, pointing out this will only consider pay rises for next year.
“If we don’t have this agreement, we’ve done our best,” Keegan told Sky News.