Unions and headteachers' leaders have reacted angrily to the Department for Education's announcement this morning that this year’s 2.75 per cent pay award for teachers will not be fully funded by the government.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said schools would have to fund the first 2 per cent of today’s award, and the DfE would fund the extra 0.75 per cent.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The government has managed to achieve the worst of all worlds by announcing a derisory pay settlement for teachers which schools cannot afford to deliver.
“The much-trailed award of 2.75 per cent is well below what is needed to make up for years of erosion in the real value of pay, or to improve teacher recruitment and retention at a time of severe shortages.
Teacher pay rise 'will result in cutbacks'
“Worse still, our reading of the government’s statement is that the first 2 per cent of the award will have to come from existing school budgets, which are already under intense pressure and cannot sustain more unfunded costs.
“It is inevitable that this will result in more cutbacks, and while schools will do their best to implement the increase, we would not be surprised if some are unable to do so.
“The fact that this announcement has been made so late is not at all helpful for schools as they have had no time to factor these costs into next year’s budgets.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT heads' union, said the announcement needed to be understood within the context of “the desperate state of school finances”.
“The government is only funding 0.75 per cent of the award, deeming the remaining 2 per cent ‘affordable’," he said.
"Unfortunately, leaders will have to cut elsewhere in their budgets in order to find the money needed to fund even this moderate rise. There’s nothing generous about this announcement, despite what the government says.”
Reacting to the news that schools will have to fund most of the pay award, headteacher Jules White, the coordinator of school funding campaign group Worth Less?, said: “It’s like being constantly asked to juggle frogs.
'Another cut to school budgets'
“Only last week, cross-party MPs made clear that a ‘multi-billion pound investment’ was required.
“It is beyond frustrating that, against this background, headteachers are left grappling with yet more financial pressures.
“We are worried, too, that any future funding increases will be offset by stealth taxes and other costs.
“Thousands of headteachers are urging a new government to turn over a new leaf and invest in schools and children properly. “
Mr White, who led a march on Downing Street by 2,000 heads last September in a funding protest, also criticised the timing of the announcement this morning.
“Once again, we have a pay award that is announced when many schools have broken up," he said. "The DfE have chosen this timing because they know that, in order to fund the award, schools are being forced to use their already inadequate budgets to do so.
"In simple terms, this is yet another real-terms cut to our budgets. “