Teacher strikes

Teacher pay strike savings to fund iPads and energy bills

Schools and trusts plan to reinvest £128m windfall from salary deductions in their workforce

Schools and trusts plan to reinvest £128m windfall from salary deductions in their workforce


Schools and trusts plan to use the money saved from teachers going on strike to buy iPads for staff, fund energy bill rises and plug deficits.

The pay of teachers who take action is usually deducted at a rate of 1/365th of their annual salary for every day they are on strike.

Based on an average teacher salary of £39,000 and the National Education Union’s estimate that 300,000 teachers took part in action in February and March, schools may have saved as much as £128 million this year.

For a trust with 100 staff on strike for four days, the estimated saving would be about £42,000. A school with 20 staff out would save more than £8,500.

Richard Sheriff,  the chief executive of the Red Kite Learning Trust and a former president of the school leaders’ union ASCL, said his 14-school trust expected to save between £50,000 and £60,000, which he might use to buy iPads for staff.

“Our thoughts were, is there any way that we could use it for something that would benefit our staff and their work with young people?”

He said staff development had been “starved of money” in recent years, so Red Kite was considering using the savings to “put it back into our strategic plan to make technology available to every single child across our trust”.

But it would buy devices for staff first.

“We know that there’s no point in giving children devices to play with unless the staff are skilled and confident in using them. More than that, we want to encourage staff and support them to collaborate on developing the curriculum together.”

Trusts plan to reinvest in teaching and learning

Other trust leaders spoke of spending the money on teaching and learning, rather than boosting reserves.

Jonny Uttley, the chief executive of The Education Alliance, which runs seven schools, said his trust would “certainly want to focus it on teaching and learning”.

A spokesperson for Ark Schools said “any reductions will be reinvested in teaching and learning”.

But other trusts said they would use the money to plug holes in their finances.

David Boyle, who leads the Dunraven Educational Trust in London, said the money would go towards “balancing budgets that were thrown significantly off course” by pay rises, a “massive” hike in energy costs and “general cost of living impact”.

“Whatever is ‘saved’ won’t fill the financial hole. The smaller the trust, the less the impact. Larger and national trusts and local authorities will see a more significant figure as a result of the strike … though they’ll have budget holes to fill as well.”

Schools need ‘every penny they can find’

Dan Morrow, the chief executive of Dartmoor MAT, said the money would reduce an in-year deficit caused by increases in utility bills.

Stephen Morales, the chief executive of the Institute of School Business Leadership, said it made “absolute sense” to invest savings in the school workforce “whether that’s an initiative that supports wellbeing, whether it’s better kit, whether it’s being able to better fund the pay increases”.

But he warned there was not “a huge amount of headroom” for “really interesting things, because every penny that schools can find is needed”.

“We’re not going to be opportunist about this. I think that’s what trust leaders are saying. It’s not that all of a sudden there’s a windfall and we’re skipping and dancing about it. The reasons why that windfall is there is because things are broken.”

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