Councils resist unions' pay rise pleas

Frances Rafferty

Frances Rafferty reports on the submissions to the teachers' pay review body as the bargaining begins.

Teachers should not get an above-inflation pay award, according to the employers, despite union calls for a double-figure rise next year.

Submissions to the School Teachers' Review Body on pay are due in now, and even with a change in Government the teachers' employers are still doom-laden.

The report released by the National Employers' Organisation for School Teachers, which represents local education authorities, says the Government has made it clear that extra funding in the Budget is not for extra pay, but to raise standards through the provision of extra staff and resources.

The extra Pounds 835 million in the kitty will just about cover an inflation-led rise and the increase in pupils. The public-sector freeze imposed by the Tories remains in place and councils have yet to learn their capping levels.

The National Union of Teachers has asked for a pay rise of more than 10 per cent. The National Association of Head Teachers has made a claim for 10 per cent for heads and deputies. The joint submission by three of the teacher unions calls for a substantial rise.

Graham Lane, the employers' chair, said: "If the review body awards teachers any more than an inflation-led rise, it will lead to bigger classes and worsening conditions. There is no money for a big pay rise and I dispute the claims that there is a recruitment crisis." He said teachers' pay rises compared very well with those given to other public-sector employees.

The employers say next year they will have to fund an increase in pupil numbers, the rest of last year's staged pay award, higher employer contributions for pensions, seat belts in school minibuses and school security.

Local authorities concede there may be problems in the future with recruitment, but say the Teacher Training Agency should do better in attracting people to teacher training.

The headteacher unions are calling for a pay award that is differentially higher than the award for teachers. They say the dramatic drop in the number of applications for headships and deputy headships shows that teachers will only take on the extra responsibilities if the pay is right.

In its evidence to the STRB, the National Governors' Council tells the review body to bear in mind that most governing bodies have had to make cuts in the past four years. It recommends an increase in line with inflation that is fully funded and not staged, but agrees that heads should be paid more.

David Blunkett, Education and Employment Secretary, said at a conference in Shropshire this week: "An inflation increase is not a pay freeze, it would be a bizarre world if it was. We are interested in balancing the understandable desire of teachers to be properly rewarded, with the need to get the extra resources into the classroom - ensuring that we don't have teachers sacked next year."

Tony Vineall, chair of the School Teachers' Review Body, is expected to publish his report by the end of January.

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