Voice Community – the education and early years section of Community Union – has criticised both the pay freeze for teachers and other school staff earning more than £24,000-a-year, and the lack of any significant investment for the early years in the Spending Review as an “overwhelming disappointment”.
Deborah Lawson, Community’s Assistant General Secretary (Voice Section), said:
“While there will at least be something for those on less than £24,000-a-year, this is a kick in the teeth for thousands of dedicated teachers, headteachers, support staff and early years professionals who have been working under extreme pressure during the pandemic, with more and more expectations placed on them.
“Staff not only provided education and care for vulnerable children and key workers’ children earlier in the year, they worked through and Easter and half term holidays, and the summer holidays to ensure schools would be COVID safe.
“This will have a damaging impact on staff morale. We recognise that economic recovery is essential, but this is counterproductive when there is already a recruitment and retention crisis in education and the early years.
“Staff are on their knees. We are hearing from teachers and school leaders that they don’t have the energy to carry on and will leave the profession as soon as they can.
“We will continue to lobby on behalf of our members for pay levels that respect what they do, including for the Government to honour its commitment to increase teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022-23.
While we welcome the Chancellor’s pledge to continue with the three-year investment plan for schools, the lack of any significant investment in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) early years sector is shocking.
“Although the furlough scheme – as an emergency measure – has helped to save jobs, more must be done to secure the future of the sector and retain the qualified and experienced staff we need to ensure children benefit from high quality early education and childcare provision.
“We reiterate our call for financial support and long-term investment from the Government to save the sector, and to recognise early education and childcare as a critical infrastructure cost for immediate economic recovery and future economic health.”