Keegan suggests pay decision won’t come until end of term

The government's response to the STRB pay report has been published in late July in recent years

The government's response to the STRB pay report has been published in late July in recent years

Gillian Keegan

The School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendations on teacher pay and government response are unlikely to be published until the final weeks of the school year, Gillian Keegan has suggested.

Ministers have come under growing pressure to release the report, following the leak of its main recommendation – a pay rise of 6.5 per cent for next year.

But the education secretary said today they would publish the report “in the same sort of timeframes as we usually do”.

Reports from the STRB were traditionally published much earlier. Records show the report was published in early June in 2014 and in March 2015.

However, since 2016, the reports have been published in July, and since 2018 have come in the latter half of the month, sometimes Just days before the end of term.

Last year this delay was particularly problematic because the STRB recommended – and the government approved – a pay rise of 5 per cent, above the 3 per cent expected. It meant many schools and trusts had signed off budgets based on the lower amount.

Maintained schools have to submit a three-year budget forecast each year, at a date set by councils between May 1 and June 30.

Academies usually have until the end of July to submit their budget forecast return, but this year the deadline has been pushed back to August 31.

Pressed on when the report and government response would come, Keegan told MPs today that she was following “the same process that goes we go through every year”.

She said she took the advice of the STRB “very seriously”, added that this was why, when she took on the job last year, she secured £2 billion in extra funding this year and next “to fund the increase for last year that the STRB had recommended”.

“I took that very seriously and I got that extra funding. That takes time. I’ve now just received this report. We are considering the recommendations. We will publish it…in the same sort of timeframes as we usually do.”

‘Heads desperately trying to budget’

Emma Hardy, a former teacher and union official who is now a Labour MP, warned Keegan that heads were “desperately trying to budget”.

“They need the STRB proposals now on pay and information on how they will be funded. The release of this information could prevent all of the strikes that we know will damage education of so many.”

Leora Cruddas, chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, said previously that trusts‘ budget forecasts submitted to government last year were “out of date within just days” because of the late announcement of pay offers.

“That is frustrating not just for the wasted effort, but for the damage it does to the ability of school trusts to plan ahead, and to tackle economic challenges,” she said.

CST has called for a multi-year school funding settlement.

Budget return deadline ‘under review’

Speaking at an event on Thursday, David Withey who joined the ESFA as chief executive in August, said he wants to be “working to a time frame that allows you to plan with certainty”.

“It helps you to deliver better outcomes and it helps me because quite a lot of our budget forecast return data last year wasn’t worth the paper it was written on because of the changes that came later.

“We have extended the budget forecast return deadline out by a month to buy us a little bit more time to make sure that happens. We will continue to have that under review if necessary.” 

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  1. Jamie

    It’s appalling that they won’t make the announcement in a timely manner allowing schools to budget for the coming year. Just shows the contempt they hold for education really. Schools will go into the new academic year running at a loss from day one. Schools are struggling and the government need to step up.

  2. Our Trustees etc don’t meet in August, so will have to sign off the budget before the end of term to allow them to be sent to DfE – so not quite sure what the point of the August deadline is.

  3. March usually. Unless… scope to release it at time government ministers (with their own children at schools with *longer* holidays) can play on teacher’s “long holidays” … and guarantee no immediate discussion between staff on-site.

    Strategic, yes; but dishonorable too?

    Dishonourable just like being disingeuously “disappointed” that graduate and post-graduate teachers with associated debt/losses and (vitally) associated hard-earned-knowledge and ability… are seeking something closer to private sector pay rises. given. the. *full*. *context*.

    Risk and reward should be linked. Taking a degree (undergraduate and a post-graduate) is a risk. Working without vaccination in the face of coughing children and teenagers in their hundreds is a risk (more so when others were at home during lockdown). NHS workers got pay rises during that time; senior teachers did not. Train drivers got vast pay rises.

    Oh, you *know* what is going on.

    It is all simply un-just “I’m alright, Gill!” politics.

  4. Eliot

    Some of us still work in maintained schools. I realise that as a maintained secondary Head I’m in the minority but my budget has to written and approved in the Spring so I am certainly used to setting budget forecasts that amount to little more than licking my finger and putting it in the air. To be honest, why are we required to submit 3 year forecasts? Does anyone in Government ever look at them?

  5. I’m a Primary Head in a maintained school with a large deficit, which is projected to incresae slightly this financial year (which we are already 2 months into) based on a 4% increase. 6.5% would be a step in the right direction, but without funding, my school will sink. What system do we have where by the time the Secreatry of State pulls her finger out, we will be more than a third of the way through a financial year, with a budget which is basically fictional? Madness. Another indication of the crass incompetence of Government and the utter contempt they hold our profession in.