Nick Gibb dodges teacher pay funding questions

The schools minister has refused to say whether more cash will be made available for larger pay rises for teachers.

Nick Gibb used education questions in the Commons today to dodge questions on schools’ ability to afford pay rises now that the public sector pay cap has been lifted.

This year, the School Teachers Review Body (STRB), which advises the government on teacher pay scales, has been given the flexibility to recommend a rise above the one-per-cent cap that has restricted increases for school staff since 2011.

Teaching and leadership unions have demanded an immediate five-per-cent raise for their members, but warned that this must be fully funded to prevent the financial burden falling on already-struggling schools.

Gibb was asked of Chester MP Christian Matheson about how pay rises will be funded.

“Will ministers confirm that when the hated one-per-cent pay cap is lifted, that the balance will be paid entirely from central funds, and not be foisted onto the schools themselves?” Matheson said.

Gibb replied that the government’s position over pay flexibility was “clear”, but failed to address the matter of extra funding for schools.

“The public sector pay cap is no longer in place, and we have adopted a more flexible approach to public sector pay. We have asked the School Teachers Review Body to use this flexibility to target the next pay award to promote recruitment and retention,” he said.

The STRB is expected to submit its report to the government imminently.

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  1. Did I hear correctly? MPs and ministers were racing through Education Questions so quickly it was sometimes difficult to separate the words. But I’m sure Damian Hinds said funding to schools had increased in real terms. But UKSA criticised him in March for describing the cash terms rise as real terms.
    I’ll have to check Hansard tomorrow. And it he did repeat the discredited claim… weary sigh … UKSA might have to rule about it again.

    • Just checked Hansard. Hinds didn’t say funding had increased in real terms. What he actually said was:
      ‘… we have committed ourselves to protecting per-pupil real-terms funding for the system as a whole over the next couple of years.’
      This is in line with UKSA’s ruling on real-terms funding (see link in above comment).

  2. Despite dodging the teachers’ pay question, Gibb had useful advice for schools:
    ‘The Department provides a range of support to schools, including a national deal to help schools to save money on such things as energy, where there is a 10% saving, or photocopiers and other computer equipment, where there are savings of up to 40%.’
    But staff costs are the greatest financial outlay. Saving on photocopiers etc won’t do much to really alleviate the financial crisis hitting schools.
    Funding them appropriately would help, though. But the Gov’t isn’t doing that despite the rhetoric. It’s an adequate real-terms rise that’s needed, not maintaining funding that’s already low.