A teaching union has expressed fears that this year’s delay in the annual pay award could be used by schools to deny teachers a pay rise.
Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, spoke out following a delay for the fourth year running in the publication of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) report, which makes recommendations to the government on the annual pay for teachers.
School unions for England and Wales are waiting anxiously for the announcement following the government’s decision to lift the 1 per cent pay cap after seven years of pay restraint.
Although there is no specified date by which the education secretary should announce what the final pay award will be, unions say there needs to be enough time for proper consultation on the draft pay and conditions document changes and on the proposals themselves before schools break up for the summer.
The past three years have seen delays because of the 2015 and 2017 general election and the referendum on the EU in 2016.
But Ms Keates said this time there seemed little reason for the fact that teaching staff have yet to hear what increase they can expect at the start of next term.
Calls for 'inflation-busting' pay rise
“The NASUWT contacted the secretary of state in early October 2017 to express concern about potential delays in the publication of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB)’s 28th report on the pay increase for the forthcoming school year.
“We explained categorically that late publication in previous years has led to either this being used as an excuse not to give teachers their pay award or to pay it many months after the entitlement date of 1 September.
“The NASUWT is therefore deeply concerned about the extent to which late publication of the STRB’s reports has become routine for the government. When the government cannot even ensure they act in a timely manner over the teachers’ pay award, is it any wonder there is a recruitment and retention crisis?”
The STRB draws up evidence from a range of stakeholders, including the Department for Education, before writing a report and submitting it to the secretary of state
This year the deadline for submissions to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) was moved forward because the Department for Education was unable to meet the deadline for submitting evidence.
This followed the decision to move to a single annual budget in the autumn.
Nonetheless, unions say the DfE has had the STRB report since May. The DfE has been approached for comment.
Many are hoping this year could bring the first inflation-busting rise in many years.
The NASUWT has called for a pay rise that at least compensates for inflation (currently 3.3 per cent RPI) and goes some way to restoring pay eroded since 2010.
Five school unions – the NEU, the NAHT, the Association of School and College Leaders, UCAC and Voice – have demanded a fully-funded “restorative pay rise” cost-of-living increase of 5 per cent for “all teachers and school leaders” in England and Wales for 2018.