2% Pay Offer ‘A Kick In The Teeth For Teachers!’

NEU Joint General Secretary MARY BOUSTED (centre) on a march to Parliament demanding the scrapping of the pay cap
NEU Joint General Secretary MARY BOUSTED (centre) on a march to Parliament demanding the scrapping of the pay cap

ANYTHING less than a 5% pay increase for teachers ‘is a kick in the teeth,’ Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said after the news broke that the Tories were holding pay at 2% for another year.

The Government’s Department for Education (DfE) submitted evidence to the Teachers’ Review Body in which it recommended that teachers do not get anything more than a 2% rise, which when inflation is taken into account is actually a real-terms pay cut.

Geoff Barton said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that the Secretary of State has told the School Teachers’ Review Body that a 2% increase in teacher pay is affordable from school budgets when this is absolutely not the case. ‘School funding per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms over the past eight years, including cuts of more than 20% to school sixth-form funding.

‘These are not our figures but those of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies. Schools have had to absorb a series of additional cost pressures without any more funding and this has inevitably resulted in many having to set deficit budgets and implement major cuts.

‘To say that schools can now afford yet another unfunded cost pressure not only adds insult to injury but places educational standards at risk. ‘Furthermore, a 2% pay award is not only unaffordable but totally inadequate after years of pay austerity which has eroded the real value of teachers’ salaries.

‘It is absolutely vital that the pay of teachers and leaders is improved as a matter of urgency at a level which addresses the ongoing crisis in recruitment and retention, and better reflects the professionalism, commitment and sheer hard work of the teaching workforce, and this must be fully funded by government. Anything less is a kick in the teeth.’

Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘A 2% increase would be derisory. ‘It would be yet another real-terms pay cut and would further fuel the teacher supply crisis. The National Education Union’s survey of almost 34,000 teachers shows that 70% are already considering leaving the profession due to poor levels of pay.

‘This disgraceful move by the Education Secretary puts him at even greater odds with the profession he should be defending. The School Teachers’ Review Body should ignore him. ‘The NEU is calling, alongside the NAHT, ASCL and Voice, for a 5% increase for all teachers as a starting point towards fair pay. Damian Hinds would be foolish to ignore the facts about teacher supply and should support that proposal.’

Almost 34,000 teachers have responded to a National Education Union pay survey, which shows alarming levels of dissatisfaction both with levels of pay and with the performance related pay (PRP) system in schools.

The survey shows:

  • 70% of respondents are thinking of leaving the teaching profession due to poor levels of pay or the PRP system.
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents feel underpaid compared to contemporaries in other graduate professions. 79% believe that their pay was less or significantly less than what they would expect given their job weight, role and responsibilities.
  • Almost half of teachers (42%) had not yet received a cost-of-living increase for September 2018, with 18% of respondents already having been told they would definitely not be getting one.

Teachers’ unhappiness with the pay system was also demonstrated by the following findings:

  • 90% of those denied progression up their pay scale said that the decision was unfair, and 92% had been given no indication during the year that they were not meeting the standards for progression, contrary to government guidance.
  • The overwhelming majority (79%) were not, however, going to appeal, with many saying that it would be a waste of time and have undesirable consequences. • Teachers who had been pregnant or on maternity leave during the previous year were almost twice as likely to be denied progression (19% compared to 11% overall) with half being explicitly told this was the reason they had been denied progression.
  • 19% of those denied progression were told that this was explicitly due to funding issues rather than performance issues, a figure which has been rising steadily in recent years.

Commenting on the survey Bousted said: ‘In the interests of teachers, parents and children the government must now take heed and act.  PRP is not suitable for schools – it promotes unfairness and inequality and makes pay determination costlier and more bureaucratic.

‘The government’s proposed 2% increase would be yet another real-terms pay cut and yet more fuel for the teacher supply crisis. The NEU and other unions have jointly called for a 5% increase supported by additional funding.

‘The government must realise that education funding needs to be increased to reverse the cuts for teachers’ pay and all the other cuts that schools have had to make in recent years. ‘Alongside a fully-funded increase of 5% for every teacher, we need a national, fair and transparent framework for teacher pay.’

  • Scottish teachers union EIS has opened a consultative ballot of its members on the latest pay offer made to Scotland’s teachers. The revised offer, based on a 3-year deal (2018-2020) with pay rises of 3% for each year plus an additional 3% payable this year, was tabled by local authorities through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).

Last week, by majority decision, the EIS Council voted to recommend rejection of the offer and a move to a statutory ballot on industrial action. EIS members will now be balloted on the offer over the next 3 weeks, with the result expected to be announced on Friday 22nd February.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan said: ‘The EIS has now opened a ballot of its members on the revised pay offer. Following considerable debate at our Council last week, a decision was taken to recommend rejection of the offer and a move to a statutory ballot for strike action.

‘However, given the wide range of views that were expressed at the meeting, Council also agreed to provide members with detail of arguments both for and against the offer, to support members in making an informed decision when they cast their vote.

‘Ultimately, it will be for the members to decide whether to accept or reject the offer that has been put to them.’

Flanagan added: ‘The EIS launched its Value Education, Value Teachers pay campaign one year ago, and the campaign has been a great success in putting the issue of teacher pay back onto the political agenda.

‘The campaign has also energised teachers across Scotland, increased the involvement of members of the union at both a local and national level, and highlighted other challenges facing teachers such as severe workload and supporting pupils with additional support needs. ‘At every stage, this has been a member-led campaign and this will continue to be the case as we move forward with this ballot and beyond.’

  • Stefan Simms, Ealing NUT Section Divisional Secretary and National Executive Member for Outer London, has used rep density and his motorbike to encourage members in Ealing to vote in the NEU indicative ballot. Stefan has visited 55-60 schools – he’s lost count of the exact number – this term, out of 80 in the west London borough.

Having a motorbike has helped, by enabling him to reach six or seven schools in a week, with three in one day possible, ‘at a push’. He gets into schools usually through the network of reps he has built up over the years.

He says: ‘The key in all of this is rep density. The people getting the vote out are the reps: They’re going round people and showing them how to vote. Every night I spend an hour calling reps to speak to them.

‘In the years building up to this I’ve always tried to focus on building up the rep density in Ealing. Not just on paper, but actual quality, proper reps who have been on the union training. They can build up teams around them, particularly in secondary schools.

‘You can’t get reps by wishing for them, you have to work really hard.

‘It’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge because as soon as you get one in one place, one moves on somewhere else. ‘You can increase rep density if you make it your priority, because when the big moments come in the union, like now, you have a lot of reps willing to give up their time and do stuff.’

Stefan is using this campaign, as an opportunity to get more reps like this. He says Lambeth has got 17 new reps from this process, while he has got eight more, with two ‘upgrades’ where reps ‘who are more fired up about it’ take over from those who have not been active in the role.

In the meetings, Stefan tries to give a ‘motivating speech’. He explains: ‘I argue that we need to stand and fight and take strike action. I can’t guarantee them victory, but I can guarantee them defeat if we don’t fight.

‘Often there will be someone who says: “Stefan’s right, we don’t have a choice, workload’s awful, our backs are against the wall, etc.” Every school that I’ve gone into has endorsed the need to strike. Not one person says no.’

Stefan supports the reps by making sure they know exactly what needs to happen, asking them to update membership lists and make sure all members fill out the indicative ballot form.

‘In 2016, 35% of my membership voted in the paper ballot, one of the highest,’ he said. ‘But when we called them out, 80-85% of my membership took strike action, so what happened to the 50%? They just didn’t get around to voting. ‘But I point out that we won’t be able to do that this time because of the anti-trade union laws. We need to know you’re going to vote.’