Teacher strikes

Teacher strikes: Unions receive pay offer as DfE talks conclude

Pay offer includes £1k one-off payment for this year and 4.3% rise for most teachers in 2023-24, but union warns it is 'not fully-funded'

Pay offer includes £1k one-off payment for this year and 4.3% rise for most teachers in 2023-24, but union warns it is 'not fully-funded'

Education unions have been offered a £1,000 one-off payment for their members this year and a 4.3 per cent pay rise for most teachers in 2023-24, leaders have announced.

The offer also included the removal of the statutory requirement for schools to use performance related pay, Schools Week understands.

But the National Education Union has tonight urged its members to reject the offer in the “strongest possible way”, warning the offer is “not fully-funded”.

Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the NEU’s joint general secretaries, said it was an “insulting offer from a government which simply does not value teachers”.

“This offer is less than teachers in Scotland and Wales have been offered. It does nothing to address the long-term decline in teacher pay and therefore does nothing to solve the problems in teacher recruitment and retention.”

It is understood the government had pledged to fund the £1,000 one-off payment and 0.5 per cent of next year’s pay award with additional grant funding. The rise for 2023-24 would be worth 4.5 per cent on average.

However, ministers believe the remaining 4 per cent is affordable within the £2 billion funding pot announced at the autumn statement and as a result of falling energy bills.

The DfE’s evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body earlier this year claimed a 3.5 per cent average rise next year would be “affordable”, but that “significant change” – possibly through energy pressure changes – “may support delivering a higher award”.

The NEU will ballot its members on the offer from today after formal pay talks with ministers concluded, recommending rejection.

If members vote to reject the offer, the NEU said its executive “has agreed to notify two further days of strike action on Thursday, April 27 and Tuesday, May 2”.

However, the executive “has agreed to seek local agreements with head teachers to ensure exam preparation is not interrupted for years 11 and 13”.

DfE told unions they could not recommend rejection

During a webinar announcing the offer, Courtney said the government had attached a precondition to the offer that unions were not allowed to recommend rejection.

“They said it would only crystallise if all union executives agreed to put this offer to members without saying reject it. But we can’t do that. We think we are a democratic organisation.

“Our executive says and we agree with them that we should reject these conditions. We think it’s outrageous of them to think that a union has to abide by their conditions.”

The NASUWT teaching union said the four unions had “tabled a final proposal for a £1,000 non-consolidated payment for 2022-23 and a 5.75 per cent consolidated award for 2023-24, together with non-pay improvements”.

It said it is “not recommending acceptance of the government’s offer”, which “falls short of what the union has demanded from the government both for pay restoration and on non-pay improvements”.

However, the union stopped short of recommending rejection, saying it was “right to hear what our members think about the offer as it stands”.

According to NASUWT, the government’s offer also included “a series of non-pay measures to support teachers and leaders in schools”.

These included requiring Ofsted to give greater clarity on when schools should expect inspections and aligning the teacher pay setting process with the school budget process to make planning easier.

Also on the cards was “reinserting” into teachers’ pay and conditions a “revised list of 21 tasks” that don’t need to be overseen by a teacher or leader, the union said.

DfE will revert to STRB process if offer not accepted

NASUWT also revealed today that the government had told unions that if the offer is not accepted “they will revert to the STRB process for the 2023-24 academic year”.

“The implication of not agreeing the pay offer could be that the £1,000 non-consolidated payment for 2022-23 and the non-pay proposals will be withdrawn by the government.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said formal talks with the government “have now concluded, and an offer has been made”.

“All the unions involved in the talks have received the same offer. NAHT’s national executive committee will be considering the details of this offer this evening. They will then decide on our next steps.”

It follows a series of strikes by members of the National Education Union in February and March over this year’s pay deal, currently worth 5 per cent for most teachers and leaders.

Formal talks began on March 17, following the conclusion of the last scheduled strikes by the NEU. The government had previously said it would not enter talks unless strikes were suspended.

A DfE spokesperson said the government had “put forward a fair and reasonable offer, backed with funding for schools”.

“This is a good deal for teachers that acknowledges their hard work and dedication.”

Meanwhile, DfE and Ofsted civil servants who are part of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will go on strike again on April 28.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members are not backing down in this dispute. Ministers need to take notice that we’re escalating our action and they need to resolve the dispute by putting money on the table.”

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