ASCL response to teachers’ pay award

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the announcement of the teachers’ pay award for 2022/23
“This pay award is wholly inadequate and represents the worst of all worlds – a substantial real-terms pay cut for the majority of teachers which will worsen teacher shortages, and no additional money for schools to afford the cost of the award thereby exacerbating the dire financial situation they face because of rising costs. It is a double whammy that lets down the teaching profession and the pupils in our schools.

“The higher awards for those on starting salaries affect a relatively small proportion of teachers. And, while this increase is welcome, inflation means that the planned £30,000 starting salary will in reality be worth significantly less than when it was first proposed in 2019.

“However, the majority of teachers will receive a much smaller increase of 5% next year – substantially below RPI inflation currently at 11.7% and therefore a massive real-terms pay cut. This comes after the real value of teaching salaries has already been cut by a fifth since 2010. This dismal record has contributed to a teacher supply crisis which sees the government routinely miss trainee recruitment targets and 40% of teachers quitting the profession within 10 years. Most schools are experiencing difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers, and have to cover gaps with supply staff, non-subject specialists, larger classes and reduced curriculum options.

“The government does not have the slightest hope of achieving the new English and maths targets set out in its recent white paper in this context. On the contrary, the likely impact of this paltry pay award on teacher recruitment and retention puts existing standards at risk.

“The government’s excuse for a below-inflation pay award is that it wants to avoid an inflationary spiral. However, the fact is that it has found one reason or another to cut teacher pay for the past 12 years – austerity, Covid, inflation. It seems that loyal, hard-working public servants are always expected to take the hit. Unsurprisingly, they have had enough and we – like other unions – will be consulting our members to see whether they wish to take industrial action in response to this decision.

“What’s more, there is scarcely a flicker of recognition from the government about the intolerable pressure on school and college budgets. Following years of real-terms cuts, recent funding improvements will only return school funding per pupil to 2010 levels by 2024. At the same time, energy bills are soaring by up to 300% or more. It is increasingly inevitable that schools and colleges will once again have no choice other than to make cutbacks to provision.

“Is this really the legacy this government wants to leave to a generation of children and young people who have already suffered the greatest disruption to their education since the Second World War?”