Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on today’s talks with Education Secretary Gillian Keegan about teacher pay, the recruitment and retention crisis, and the prospect of industrial action.
“We met with the Education Secretary this morning alongside other education union colleagues to discuss the erosion in the real value of teacher and leader pay because of below-inflation pay awards, the consequent recruitment and retention crisis, and the prospect of industrial action.
“While it is good that these talks are continuing, and we are fully supportive of an ongoing dialogue, we have to report that no progress was made at this meeting and we are no nearer a solution.
“There are three unresolved issues. The first is the inadequacy of the pay award in this academic year, which at 5% for most teachers and leaders is well below inflation, currently running at 13.4% on the Retail Price Index measure and 10.5% on the Consumer Price Index measure. The fact that the pay award was not fully funded by the government has piled more financial pressure on to school leaders and governors.
“The second is next year’s pay award which the Education Secretary has already sought to constrain in her remit letter to the pay review body where she says it is particularly important to have regard to the government’s inflation target – which at 2% would represent yet another substantial below-inflation pay award.
“The third is the unsustainable workload of leaders and teachers. This is a direct consequence of the insufficiency of government funding to education over the past 12 years which has left staff having to do more work with fewer resources.
“Nobody wants to see industrial action, but it is not surprising that members of the NEU have voted in favour of strike action in these circumstances. Teacher shortages are a critical issue for virtually every school and college in the country and are causing educational damage on a daily basis. The government must do better for teachers, leaders and pupils.”