Election 2024

Publish STRB report and pay offer ‘immediately’, unions tell Keegan

Ministers will pay 'heavy political price' for any 'continued failure' to invest, say unions

Ministers will pay 'heavy political price' for any 'continued failure' to invest, say unions

The government must “immediately” publish its pay and funding offer to teachers and leaders, unions have said, warning ministers will “pay a heavy political price” at the election for any “continued failure” to invest.

The National Education Union, NASUWT teaching union and NAHT and ASCL school leaders’ union have written a joint letter to education secretary Gillian Keegan calling for the publication of the School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendations and government’s response.

They are demanding a “fully-funded, above-inflation pay increase for all teachers and school leaders in September 2024. Anything less would be an abnegation of the government’s responsibility to protect our education service.

“The government will pay a heavy political price at the general election for any continued failure to make the investment needed to support our education service.”

It comes amid reports that Rishi Sunak is preparing to announce that the general election will be held on July 4.

Pledge to align with budgeting ‘undermined’

The STRB report and response are normally published at the end of term, after leaders have drawn up draft budgets for the next academic year, throwing that budgeting process into chaos.

The anticipated election announcement also increases the likelihood that the pay deal won’t be confirmed until mid or late July, as government prepares to go into the pre-election “purdah” period which restricts announcements.

Last year, the government promised to “work to align the timing of the STRB process with the school budget cycle in future”.

Gillian Keegan
Gillian Keegan

In their letter, the unions urged Keegan to “immediately publish the STRB report and to confirm the government’s 2024-25 pay and funding offer to teachers and school leaders”.

“There is no good reason for you to delay publishing the STRB report and compelling reasons to publish it now.”

They pointed to the pledge to align the process with the school budgeting cycle, and warned that “any further delay in publishing the STRB report will undermine this commitment”.

It comes after the Headteachers’ Roundtable group of leaders called for a “long-term approach to reliable pay and progression to secure a consistent, sustainable supply of staff”.

“Pay settlements cannot represent an annual circus of delay and disappointment. Leaders must be able to plan over time for pay progression. All staff working in schools must know the sector provides consistently competitive salaries for all to pursue a rewarding career.”

‘Need for change is overwhelming’

The government has been repeatedly criticised for delays to the pay-setting process. The government’s remit letter was issued just days before Christmas, and the government was late in submitting its own evidence to the STRB.

“We have engaged fully in the STRB process, including meeting consultation deadlines that you missed. You must now support schools in the planning and consultation on pay implementation that should take place before the end of this term,” the unions said.

They said parents, pupils and education workers were “affected by the government’s failing education policies”.

“For more than a decade, the government has underinvested in our education service and undervalued our teachers and school leaders. The need for change is overwhelming.”

They said as the STRB “sits on your desk, the already critical recruitment and retention problems are getting worse”.

“Any delay in the publication of the report will make those problems worse.”

They said “many teachers and school leaders” would be “considering leaving the profession” ahead of the May 31 deadline to give their notice.

“We expect the government to make the investment needed to repair the damage to education.”

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