YESTERDAY the Department for Education announced that it will be pushing for higher pay for newly qualified teachers as part of the Tory government’s ‘back to school’ policy unveiled last week.
The education secretary for England, Gavin Williamson, will be asking the School Teachers’ Review Body for an increase of up to £6,000 a year for new teachers by 2023, with the promise that starting salaries for new teachers could rise to £30,000 in four years.
This promise to increase pay was part of Boris Johnson’s announcement last week that his government would be spending an extra £14 billion on education over this period.
Behind this headline figure proclaimed by Johnson is the fact that the ‘new money’ promised amounts to only £2.6 billion more for schools in 2020/21, while the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that to instantly reverse the funding cuts to schools already made by the Tories would require at least £3.8 billion next year.
Johnson claimed that the extra funding would raise the minimum spending per pupil to £4,000 for primary schools and £5,000 for secondary, and would ensure that ‘areas of the country that have been historically underfunded’ get the greatest increase.
In fact, an analysis by The Sunday Times newspaper at the weekend revealed that the areas he considers ‘historically underfunded’ all turn out to be in Tory constituencies. Schools in the more deprived regions will see little or none of the money being promised.
The analysis revealed that more than 90% of schools getting an increase of more than £100 per pupil a year will be in Tory-held constituencies – areas such as Essex, the South West and Kent.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s education spokeswoman, said: ‘This is clearly designed as an election bribe.’
She added that schools in areas such as London and the North of England – many of which are in particularly great need – will not receive any funding increase.
The announcement of this ‘new money’ went hand in hand with the Tory plans to institute a draconian package of new measures designed to discipline children in schools, force every secondary and primary school to become an academy and drive forward the creation of ‘free schools’.
On discipline, the document leaked last week explicitly supports head teachers who use ‘reasonable force’ against pupils. It states: ‘We will back heads to use powers to promote good behaviour including sanctions and rewards; using reasonable force; to search and confiscate items from pupils (including mobile phones); impose same-day detentions; suspend and expel pupils; ban mobile phones.’
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Teachers and school staff are already able to use “reasonable restraint”, but the leaked proposals of “reasonable force” implies more kinds of physical contact.’
She added: ‘This seems dangerously open to interpretation – what one person considers to be “reasonable” another person may not. We don’t want teachers exercising reasonable force, we want well-disciplined schools which are well funded.’
Along with ‘reasonable force’ the Tories are also pushing for mass exclusions of ‘unruly pupils’ at a time when support for them has been slashed to the extent that local councils are saying that they cannot afford any provision for children needing special needs support.
The Tories are promising more money for schools in the Tory shires with nothing for the rest of the country while academy trusts are being offered £24,000 incentives to take over state schools.
More millions for the academy privateers, more money for schools in the wealthy Tory shires and the vague promise that new teachers might get a pay increase while working class kids face a Tory-sanctioned use of physical force to keep them in line or being slung out onto the streets through exclusion.
The Tories are determined to return to the days of the 19th century when working class children were beaten into submission or denied any education at all – just making them fit for the workhouse.
The answer to this must be to bring down this Tory government and go forward to a workers government that will kick out the privateers, abolish academies and free schools, and provide a decent free state education for every child.