In recent days, we have seen government ministers using media interviews to vilify teachers and other public sector workers for demanding better pay and conditions, with remarks about public duty and controlling inflation.
In response, Community union’s National Officer for Education and Early Years, Helen Osgood, said:
“Using the media to put pressure on an already demoralised workforce is not a productive way to make educators feel valued. It simply exacerbates the stress staff are under and does not support their mental health, flying in the face of the government’s own commitments in the DfE’s Education Staff Wellbeing Charter.
“We urge the Education Secretary and the Prime Minister to take action now and raise teachers’ pay, securing the future for our children and the staff who work with them in our schools.
“The alternative would just let everyone down.”
Throughout the spring of 2022, Community and the other teacher unions, together with the DfE, submitted evidence to the independent teacher pay review body for England.
The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has not yet reported, though we expect the findings to be published before the end of July.
Community proposed a comprehensive uplift to all teacher salary points of 10%, and also recommended an increase to PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time.
Research by NFER suggests that a significant pay rise is required, given the changes to the economy and the labour market compared to when the DfE pay proposals of a 3 per cent rise for most teachers and leaders were conceived (8.9 per cent rise for starting salaries).
Staff worked diligently and made many sacrifices throughout the pandemic to ensure that pupils did not get left behind. They put themselves on the front line when schools reopened and have provided food, resources and wellbeing support to fill the gaps in provision.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi told The Sun:
“Young people have suffered more disruption to their education than any generation gone before, and it’s the vital work of teachers that is helping them get back on track.”
That vital work of teachers and other school staff has had a huge impact on supporting pupils and families. Because the government has failed to support pupils with a robust and fully funded education recovery programme, Sir Kevan Collins resigned as the government’s education recovery tsar when his plea for £15 billion to support pupils was ignored, and just £1.4 billion over three years was offered instead.
And now that same government is attempting to vilify teachers for standing up and demanding better pay and conditions.
In the last decade, teacher pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms. Workload, accountability and the cost of living are driving teachers and support staff out of our schools.
Recruitment into teacher training has plummeted and across the country, vacancies for September are running at record highs. Experienced teachers do not feel valued by the system, and school leaders have had enough and are leaving in droves.
Without a significant uplift to pay, and an improvement to conditions, there will be a full-blown recruitment and retention crisis.
Watch this space…