Unions demand 5% pay rise for teachers ahead of autumn budget

Leading education union figures have joined forces to demand a 5 per cent pay rise for teachers from 2018, just weeks before the chancellor is due to deliver his budget.

In an open letter to the education secretary Justine Greening, the heads of six major unions expressed “grave concerns about the state of teacher supply” and demanded a significant salary bump for all teachers from next year.

The letter is signed by Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders, Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Head Teachers, Elaine Edwards of the Welsh union UCAC, Deborah Lawson of Voice, and Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney of the National Education Union.

The letter echoes fears raised by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) that low pay is making it more difficult to recruit and retain teachers, or encourage the best staff to apply for leadership positions, and warns of a “brewing crisis” in the education sector.

It points out that teachers have suffered seven years of real-terms pay cuts due to the government’s policy on public sector pay, and warns that teachers are paid less than other graduate professionals whether they are early in their careers or experienced school leaders.

“The situation is now so critical that it requires firm and decisive action,” the unions tell Greening. “In order to support and secure recruitment and retention, teachers’ pay levels must be restored to at least the levels that existed before the start of the pay restraint in 2010.

“We believe that teachers must be given an immediate pay rise of five per cent in 2018 as step towards this.”

The STRB has been told it will be given “flexibility” over the 1 per cent, but there are concerns that schools will not be able to afford even a small rise in pay.

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, will deliver the autumn budget on November 22, and the unions want to see cash allocated so schools can award a larger pay rise.

Their letter warns that 88 per cent of schools in England face further real-terms cuts, and urges the government to commit to a national framework of pay and conditions for all education staff in publicly funded schools to “ensure consistency, fairness and transparency”.

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  1. Mark Watson

    Well the unions do know a thing or two about pay rises.
    In 2016 Brian Lightman resigned as General Secretary of the ASCL on 31 January. He received £15,688 in salary and £1,538 pension contributions for this month, which equates to annual remuneration of £206,712. An increase of over 34% on his 2015 remuneration of £153,928. He also received £100,000 further to a Settlement Agreement (no details of which are available).
    In 2016 the General Secretary of the NAHT had a pay rise of 7%, the General Secretary of UCAC had a pay rise of 13.5% and the General Secretary of Voice had a pay rise of 4.8%. (I do feel it worth noting that the General Secretaries of UCAC and Voice are paid much, much less than the ‘main’ teaching unions though).
    This post is certainly not against the principle of teachers having pay rises, and personally I do think the Government should fund an appropriate rise (5% or something else).
    I’m just unsure why the people purporting to represent the individuals involved in the sharp-end of teaching are never questioned as to the money they extract from the system. All of the figures I’ve quoted here are publicly available information, but no-one seems remotely interested in asking any questions.
    If anyone wants to see the details:

    • You’re right. Not one national media outlet has ever brought up union leader’s pay.
      Not one.

      Perhaps you could focus on the rather more important issue of teacher recruitment and retention, rather than auditioning for a job with the Mail?

      • Mark Watson

        That’s right. Anyone questioning how the teaching unions operate must be a Daily Mail stooge. That’s not patronising at all.
        Actually I’m not talking generally about union leaders’ pay. I’m specifically interested in why the General Secretaries of teaching unions get paid so much more than other unions. As I posted previously on Schools Week, using the annual returns published in 2015 the General Secretary of Unite (the biggest union) received remuneration of £80,907.
        The General Secretaries of the teaching unions received the following:
        NUT – £150,160
        ATL – £139,963
        NAHT – £150,902
        NASUWT – £132,858
        ASCL – £153,928
        It gets even more interesting if you look at the difference between the General Secretaries based on remuneration per member (an approach like the one Schools Week takes when looking at MAT CEO pay). Taking Unite as the base point – i.e. the General Secretary is paid £80,907 for leading a union of 1,382,126 members – the salaries of the teaching unions’ General Secretaries stack up as follows on a ‘per member’ basis:
        NUT – 7 times higher than Unite
        ATL – 12 times higher than Unite
        NAHT – 63 times higher than Unite
        NASUWT – 7 times higher than Unite
        ASCL – 143 times higher than Unite
        Do I have to be a Daily Mail journalist to find that worthy of comment and question? If someone can explain to me how I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, and why these salaries are reasonable, I’ll be grateful for the information and never bring it up again …

        • It’s right wing politics: don’t address the main issue because you know you haven’t got a leg to stand on.

          Instead, criticise a tiny handful of (union) people and hope the distraction works and that people resent the ‘bad guys’ so much that they refute their opinion, however right or wrong that opinion is.

          The article wasn’t about union leader pay, but you executed a (hard right) handbrake turn to try and make it into one. If you want to write a few hundred words about union leader pay I’m sure the Mail (and maybe Schools Week, who knows?) would happily read it for you. They might even publish it!

          But whilst we’re waiting for that article, why don’t we get back to the focus of this one?

          There are 400,000 plus teachers in the UK who haven’t had a decent pay rise in nigh on a decade, their leaders are saying it is time they got one: are they right or wrong?

          • Mark Watson

            If the issue is about pay rises for teachers, I thought it was pretty clear in my original post that I supported it. That bit where I said “personally I do think the Government should fund an appropriate rise (5% or something else)”.
            Hmmm, maybe not such a “hard right” Daily Mail opinion huh?
            Maybe you missed that in your rush to slam anyone questioning the inviolate trade unions?
            Having made clear that I am in favour of teachers getting a pay rise, I thought it was worth making another point. Heaven forfend we might consider more than one topic here.
            So given I had already answered the question about whether teachers should get a pay rise, why don’t you answer my question about why teaching unions pay their General Secretaries so much more than other trade unions?

          • Mark Watson

            Morning Justin – I’ve answered your question unequivocally. (Indeed, as I said I’d answered it in my first post).
            Are you able to help me with my question?