Education unions unite to reject Government pay freeze

Organisations representing the overwhelming majority of teachers and school leaders in England have united in opposing the Government’s pay freeze.

In a joint statement, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), National Education Union (NEU), and Voice Community, have called on the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) to recommend a pay award which will restore the value and competitiveness of teacher and school leader pay.

We have warned that the Government’s planned pay freeze will inflict yet another real-terms cut to salaries, adding to the damage caused by below-inflation awards since 2010. It will further worsen teacher shortages because of the long-term impact on recruitment and retention.

Our statement says:

“The Government is out of touch with the profession and its position is not credible. Its attempts to use the impact of the pandemic to justify further attacks on pay, despite the huge contribution made by teachers and school leaders to the national response to the pandemic, have created enormous anger.”

We are calling for the STRB to assert its independence by recommending the significant pay increase that is required to ensure that teacher pay is competitive. We are also calling for a fairer pay structure to improve teacher retention with the assurance of mandatory pay points for progression in all pay ranges, and the scrapping of performance-related pay (PRP), as the evidence suggests this has a negative impact.

Deborah Lawson, Assistant General Secretary of Community Union (Voice education section), said:

“The pay freeze is a kick in the teeth for the nation’s dedicated teachers and headteachers, who have been working under extreme pressure during the pandemic, with more and more expectations placed on them. It has had a damaging impact on staff morale.

“Teachers have not only provided education and care for vulnerable children and key workers’ children but have worked through holidays.

“There’s already a recruitment and retention crisis, and we’ve heard many teachers and school leaders say they don’t have the energy to carry on and will leave the profession as soon as they can.”

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said:

“We recognise the pressure on public finances caused by the Covid crisis but freezing the pay of teachers and leaders is a false economy. Not only does it send a terrible message to loyal public servants, but it will also damage staff retention and undermine the Government’s mantra that education is a national priority.”

NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said:

“School leadership is a demanding and important profession, as clearly demonstrated over the last year, and pay should reflect this. At the moment, it doesn’t. The government needs to make the case for a decades-long career in teaching, and routinely freezing pay is no way to do that. The recruitment and retention crisis continues unabated and the teaching and leadership supply pipeline is leaking at both ends. At present the government is failing to recruit enough new teachers whilst too many experienced teachers leave prematurely. A pay rise for school staff is long overdue.”

NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney said:

“Teachers and school leaders have suffered a decade of pay cuts in real terms, leading to serious recruitment and retention problems. If the Government gets its way yet more pay cuts will be inflicted on the profession. The STRB and Government must respond properly to the profession’s united opposition to the pay freeze and PRP.”

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