Teacher pay

Unions express ‘frustration and disquiet’ after DfE pay evidence delayed

Missed deadline comes after STRB remit letter was issued just days before Christmas

Missed deadline comes after STRB remit letter was issued just days before Christmas

Unions have expressed their “serious frustration and disquiet” after it emerged the government will miss the deadline to submit evidence to the body that helps set teacher pay.

The Department for Education has until today to submit its evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations to ministers on pay rises each year.

But the STRB told unions today there was “now likely to be a delay” to the government’s submission.

Ministers had already angered unions by issuing the STRB’s remit letter – required to being the pay-setting process each year – just days before Christmas.

The timing of the pay-setting process is already tight. The government regularly leaves publication of the final STRB recommendations and its decision until the end of term, after many schools have drawn up their budgets.

Leaders also accused Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, of seeking to constrain the STRB’s recommendations, after she urged it to consider evidence on the “impact of pay rises on schools’ budgets”.

‘Simply unacceptable’

Now leaders of the NAHT and ASCL leadership unions and the National Education Union have written to the STRB, after receiving what they said was confirmation from the DfE that the evidence was delayed.

“When our industrial dispute with the government was resolved last summer Gillian Keegan gave us an undertaking that she would do everything possible to deliver a timely pay settlement this year.

“This pledge has fallen at its first two hurdles. First an extremely late remit letter, sent to the STRB just days before Christmas, and now another delay.”

They added it was “simply unacceptable that the Department for Education has again apparently missed the deadline for submitting its evidence to the STRB and delayed the process, something which has happened frequently in recent years”.

“We have written to the STRB to express our disquiet in the strongest possible terms. At best, it shows a complete and utter disregard for the dedicated professionals working in our schools who have faced a decade of real-terms pay cuts.”

The unions said it “makes it even more important that the government comes up with a fair proposal on pay”.

They want to see a proposal that “takes seriously the demands of working in schools and the severe recruitment and retention crisis, addresses the pay cuts against inflation, and ensures our members do not face any delay in receiving this year’s award”.

Unions refuse to share their evidence with government

Union leaders have also told the STRB they “do not give permission” for their own evidence to be published or shared “until government has made its own submission”.

In a letter, the bosses of the NEU, NAHT, ASCL and Community said: “We need an assurance that our evidence would only be shared with other parties who had submitted evidence by the original deadline.”

While acknowledging the issue is “not of the STRB’s making”, leaders warned the “fact remains that this is not a satisfactory way to conduct the pay review process”.

“In practice it means that statutory consultees are expected to adhere to a deadline that government has chosen to ignore. This may lead teachers and school leaders to question the fairness of the process.”

They warned that representative bodies “will be disadvantaged by their evidence being shared before government has published its own”.

It means government can “read and respond to the other consultees’ evidence at the main submission stage, but the reverse is not true”.

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