Education leaders call on government to reopen pay discussions

Education leaders have called for the Government to reopen pay discussions following reports that an independent pay review body has recommended a 6.5% wage rise for teachers this year.

The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has recommended teachers get a pay rise two percentage points higher than that offered by the Department for Education (DfE) this year, according to the Sunday Times.

Sources told the paper that the advisory body said the education sector needed a bigger increase to keep it on a stable footing.

The Government is yet to disclose the recommendation publicly.

Industrial strike
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said the government must now urgently reopen serious negotiations (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Last week, the National Education Union (NEU) said teachers would hold fresh strikes in July if their long-running dispute over pay has not been resolved by mid June.

Unions previously rejected an offer from the Government of a 4.3% pay rise and a one-off payment of £1,000.

NEU general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said: “Teachers and school leaders overwhelmingly rejected Gillian Keegan’s last offer – both because it was too low and because it wasn’t fully funded.

“Since that rejection, she has sought to hide behind the STRB, saying that she is leaving it to them to make the decision on teacher pay.

“She now has the report and can no longer hide behind the STRB.”

They added: “She must invite the teacher and leader unions into the DfE and be absolutely clear about whether, and when she intends, or not, to implement the STRB’s recommendations in full, or, as we would argue, to go beyond them.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said a 6.5% increase “would be progress” but warned of “deep recruitment and retention issues”.

He said: “The Government needs to fully fund the award and resolve the pay dispute for the current financial year, as well as making big changes to ease workload and inspection pressures.

“It must now urgently reopen serious negotiations.”

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) general secretary Geoff Barton said the recommendation “appears to be a step in the right direction” but said the Government must make sure every school has enough money to afford to pay their teachers without making cuts.

He added: “The education unions have had a number of discussions with Department for Education officials over the last couple of weeks about what would need to be in place to ensure that every school could afford any increase in pay.

“We would encourage the Government to restart formal pay negotiations as soon as possible, in order to prevent further likely industrial action this term and next.”

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said the STRB report is evidence “the Government is out of touch and that its position is no longer credible”.

He added: “Our message to the Secretary of State is that she has the opportunity to prevent further industrial action by agreeing to work with us to secure a deal for this year and next year that our members are willing to support.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “As part of the normal process, the independent School Teachers’ Review Body has submitted its recommendations to Government on teacher pay for 2023/24.

“We will be considering the recommendations and will publish our response in the usual way.”