Voice Community has submitted its written evidence on teachers’ pay in England to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) (4 March 2022), Supplementary Evidence (24 March 2022) and Oral Evidence (21 April 2022).
We remain committed to working productively with the Review Body and the different departments of government on matters of teacher pay, as we have done in previous years and look forward to playing an active part in the discussions.
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
“Community always looks forwards to contributing to the teachers’ pay review. This year, we will use our contribution to highlight our members’ experiences – as collected for our report ‘The Future of Education’. We are hopeful the Review Body listen to those experiences and bring forwards a pay proposal that meets our members’ expectations.
“For too long, teachers have been experiencing a real-terms pay cut, additional stress from significant amounts of administration, combined with not enough PPA time and a chronic lack of training and development. It is essential the Review Body tackle these issues if we are to stop the high levels of attrition and maintain experienced teachers in the sector.”
Helen Osgood, National Officer for Education and Early Years, said:
“As we move forward to living with COVID, and working out how we do that safely in the community and in schools, Community members are playing a key role, in ensuring that the lost learning that millions of pupils endured during the COVID years is being addressed. This will take significant time, dedication and effort on the part of our members, and our submission urges the Government to address the problems that the profession is facing, with a view to making education a profession that people want to work in and attracting high calibre candidates.
“Our members have for too long suffered pay freezes, staff shortages and a staff retention crisis in schools. Community Union wants to work with the Government to ensure that the issues that our members are facing are addressed through the pay mechanism, so that we have a profession that feels valued, supported and, above all, young people aspire to be part of in the future.
“Our evidence is aimed at ensuring that Community members in the education sector have the necessary support, through appropriate remuneration and increased PPA time, to be in the best possible position to help and support pupils. If we get the provision for the staff right, the rest will follow, and this submission outlines how we believe we can achieve that. The role that our members play in ensuring pupils catch up on lost learning must be recognised by the government, press and public. This is a huge task, and one that our members are prepared to meet head on, but they need backing to do so.
“Let’s make the aspiration within this document a reality and make a real difference to the working lives of educational professionals.”
Summary of Voice Community’s evidence
- Teacher pay has for too long suffered and deteriorated in value. It is no longer sufficient to draw new applicants into the profession and provides scant reward for those who wish to remain.
“If policymakers want to recruit and retain the most effective teachers, they need to ensure that teachers starting salaries remain competitive and that the pay scales are adjusted so that experience is rewarded, because as things stand, for many, it does not pay to be a teacher.” (Joshua Fullard)
- A real-terms pay increase is necessary, one which restores the value of teacher in the face of inflation, increased living costs and rising energy prices. It is essential that teacher pay maintains this restored value in the future. Voice Community believes that a fully-funded increase of 10% is fair and reasonable. It is unreasonable to require schools and academies to fund this from any reserves they may have prudently built up over the past 24 months as they already have to bear the burden of increased pension and National Insurance increases.
- Teacher supply remains a concern. Whilst there is evidence that the public see teachers as having relatively high job security, this has not led to stability in the recruitment and retention figures. Indeed, although the pandemic could be seen to have contributed to an increase in applications to ITT, it remains to be seen how many of these will graduate as qualified teachers and mature in the profession.
- In addition to pay, workload and wellbeing are significant contributors to staff happiness. Currently, there is a requirement for staff to receive a minimum 10% PPA time. Some schools see this as a target, and others fail to achieve the minimum on a regular basis. More graduates are seeking improved working conditions, and this can be achieved through additional time to complete duties. Therefore, Voice Community is recommending an increase of PPA to 20% for all teaching staff and those who are directed to lead classroom learning.
- A culture needs to be developed so that staff have the right to disconnect from the workplace, ie not being expected to answer emails and phone calls out of hours, to support mental health and wellbeing. This would be in line with the aims of the Staff Wellbeing Charter which was launched earlier this academic year. Furthermore, the Government needs to adhere to this charter, to which it has signed up, to ensure that all school staff, including leaders, are given the right to disconnect.
- Teachers need to be released to teach and funded to do so. Successive funding cuts have withered school support services so that they are no longer effective nor functioning at a time when there has never been a greater need. The disadvantage gap is growing because these services are unable to bridge the gap and support children’s physical and emotional needs. Any withdrawal or diversion of existing funding from schools would jeopardise further the support that vulnerable children and young people are receiving. Therefore, the pay increase for teachers must be fully funded by central government to protect these learners and the schools and staff they rely on.
- The pay structure – its various points, ranges and allowances – is also vulnerable. It is vulnerable since many aspects are not fully understood and open to interpretation. Despite the pay freedoms afforded them, the vast majority of academies do adhere to the tenets and scales of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, which speaks volumes for the value of the publication. However, there is scope for improving understanding and achieving greater clarity, and reducing inequality, and we urge the Review Body to consider how this might be achieved in their recommendations.
- We trust that the Review Body will consider all of the evidence and look widely at the situation before making its recommendations to government. And we look forward to working together to address these and other wider pay and conditions issues.
- Read Voice Community’s Written Submission (pdf) (4 March 2022)
- Read the Joint union submission to the STRB. (pdf) (4 March 2022)
- Read Voice Community’s Supplementary Evidence (pdf) (24 March 2022)
- Read Community’s Oral Evidence to the STRB (pdf) Thursday 21 April 2022
- Read the STRB’s remit letter for 2022
If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.