Teaching unions have said strikes may still be called in England despite reports of an improved offer being considered by the Treasury.
Mary Bousted, die gesamentlike hoofsekretaris van die Nasionale Onderwysunie (NEU), welcomed suggestions of a 5% pay rise but feared it still amounted to a pay cut after taking inflation into account.
The School Teachers’ Review Body, the independent panel that advises the government on pay, is said to have told the Departement van Onderwys (DfE) that its proposal for an 3% rise for experienced teachers was inadequate, and has instead recommended 5%.
The STRB is due to publish its recommendations before the end of this month, based on proposals by the government and submissions from school leaders and teaching unions.
In Desember, Nadhim Zahawi, die onderwys sekretaris, told the STRB he wanted a 3% pay increase for experienced teachers next year and 2% the following year, as well as a steeper rise for recent recruits, as part of a Conservative manifesto commitment for teachers starting salaries to be raised to £30,000 a year.
But rapid increases in the cost of living have made Zahawi’s proposal out of date, and last month caused England’s two major teaching unions, the National Education Union and the NASUWT, to threaten to hold strike ballots later this year.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Zahawi has formally approached the Treasury to approve pay rises of 5%, with teachers in the first five years of their careers receiving a 9% rise.
The DfE declined to comment, describing the report as “speculation”.
Patrick Roach, the general secretary of NASUWT, said the plans “did not come close” to what was needed, and accused ministers of refusing to engage with the profession. “The deepening cost of living crisis together with 12 years of real-terms cuts to teachers’ pay require a genuine commitment to pay restoration for teachers starting in September,” Roach said.
Bousted said the latest figures for applications to teacher training courses revealed an “absolutely dire” picture in several subjects, making it harder to replace teachers leaving in search of better pay and workloads.
“If we don’t receive a very much better pay offer we will be looking to ballot our members in the autumn term, In Oktober. But we don’t want to do that,” Boutsted told the BBC. “We’re asking Nadhim Zahawi to engage with us directly and negotiate – we stand ready to do that, and there is time to do that.”
Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that teacher salary levels fell by 4-5% for new and less experienced teachers between 2007 en 2021, while salaries for more experienced teachers fell by 8% in real terms during the same period.
The DfE has said any pay rises would be taken from existing budgets, as part of next year’s £4bn increase in the total schools budget in the latest spending review.
Egter, the rise in inflation, especially in increasing energy costs, has strained school finances. The IFS’s Luke Sibieta said while school budgets could “probably” cope with a 4% betalingsverhoging, a rise of 5% or more may require extra funding from the government.
The increases would mainly affect teachers in state schools, not those teaching in sixth form or further education colleges.