Teaching union leaders dub 5% pay rise 'unacceptable' and claim it amounts to 'cut' in wages

Strike action could close schools in the autumn

Published

Teachers have rejected a proposed plan for a pay rise of five percent, saying the move does not "come close" to what is needed.

The statement follows reported plans from Nadhim Zahawi, which would give early career teachers a rise of nine percent in the first five years' of their career, as part of plans to elevate starting salaries to £30,000.

Mr Zahawi is also planning a pay rise of five percent for the remaining 380,000 teachers across the UK to avoid the risk of strike action, rather than three percent as originally planned.

He has reportedly written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to propose the increase.

But General Secretary of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted has rejected the proposals.

She said it was “not enough, it is still a pay cut”, although she added that it would be “a start".

Plans proposed by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to raise teachers' pay by five percent have been rejected by angry teachers
Plans proposed by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to raise teachers' pay by five percent have been rejected by angry teachers

“If we don’t receive a very much better offer we will be looking to ballot our members in October,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

In a submission to the School Teachers' Review Body, the Department for Education suggested more experienced teachers receive pay rises of between two and three percent, which unions have said is worryingly low considering the skyrocketing inflation rates.

Both the NASUWT and NEU teaching unions, which have threatened strikes in autumn over pay, have said that the proposed increase of five percent for more experienced staff is too low.

The NEU has previously written to Mr Zahawi, calling for “inflation-plus” pay rises.

In a previous letter to the Education Secretary, the NEU demanded "inflation-plus" pay rises.

Teachers have threatened to strike in the autumn
Teachers have threatened to strike in the autumn

The letter said: “We have to tell you that failing sufficient action by you, in the autumn term, we will consult our members on their willingness to take industrial action. And we will be strongly encouraging them to vote yes."

NASUWT has said it will hold a national strike ballot if the Government fails to “deliver pay restoration for teachers”.

Ms Bousted said she anticipates the Government's formal response to the STRB at the end of month, adding how nine percent for starting teachers was “only one percent more than expected” while five percent for more experienced staff was “unacceptable”.

She said: “Nine percent for beginner teachers does not really shift the dial on the Government’s plan to reach a £30,000 starter salary within two years.

"In that time, however, teachers will have experienced the intense and excessive workload which leads to almost a third quitting within five years of qualifying."

Continuing, the General Secretary of the NEU noted how experienced teachers had been, “subjected to poor pay deal after poor pay deal for many years, and for them a five percent deal would be unacceptable".

She said: “It is well below the current RPI inflation of 11.7 percent. What we need to see is an inflation-plus pay increase for all teachers.

“Teacher pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010. Combine this with the high workload – and amongst the highest unpaid working hours – and it is no wonder there is a major problem with recruitment and retention.

“With training numbers through the floor, this has profound consequences for our education system. Add to this schools struggling to make ends meet through periods of underfunding, additional Covid security, and now the cost-of-living crisis.”

General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton said that ASCL was “not entirely sure what is new about this” given that the DfE submission to the STRB in March put forward a two-year pay award of 8.9 percent and then 7.1 percent to teacher starting salaries as part of the promise to raise them to £30,000".

He added: “The trouble is that it also proposed lower pay awards for other pay points tapering down to three percent and then two percent for teachers on the upper pay scale and for leaders – which is significantly below inflation and represents another effective pay cut.

“This is on top of pay erosion since 2010 which has seen the real value of salaries fall by a fifth and is one of the main drivers of a teacher shortage crisis that is hitting our schools.

“We are seeking an across-the-board pay award which matches inflation and which also begins to address this long-term attack on teacher pay. We simply must have enough teachers to put in front of classes.”

The Schools Week website has reported how, worryingly, there are not enough supply agency teachers to fill in gaps if teachers go on strike.