Sixth-form colleges will not receive any additional Department for Education funding to give their teaching staff the same pay-rise rates as school teachers.
It was announced in July that teachers in schools would be in line for a pay rise from September, part-funded by the government. Those on the main pay scale would get 3.5 per cent, while those on the upper ranges would receive 2 per cent and leaders would get 1.5 per cent. The teachers’ pay grant is worth £187 million in 2018-19 and £321m in 2019-20; it assumes that institutions have already budgeted for a 1 per cent rise.
But it has emerged that while 16-19 maintained schools and academies are eligible for the increase, sixth-form colleges are not covered. Following weeks of discussion between sector representatives and the DfE, the decision was confirmed in a document published on Friday, which lists the types of institution covered by the deal that was announced by education secretary Damian Hinds.
The decision means that those sixth-form colleges that converted to become academies will receive DfE funding, while those that did not will miss out. About 30 institutions have converted to date. They also benefit from not having to pay VAT, unlike incorporated colleges.
The move means that teachers will only receive a pay rise if their college funds it out of existing budgets. The first annual education spending report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, published this week, concluded that 16-18 education had "seen the biggest squeeze of all stages of education for young people in recent years".
Bill Watkin, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges' Association (SFCA), said the announcement that academies would benefit from a funding boost was “good news for around 30 of our members, but around 70 of our members will not receive any additional funding, which is extremely disappointing”.
“We were disappointed for lecturers in FE colleges when it was announced last month that they would not receive the teachers’ pay grant, but we continued to make the case for the grant to be extended to teachers in sixth-form colleges and 16-19 academies," he added.
"Our position on this issue has been consistent: that sixth-form colleges have the same workforce, pay rates and negotiating machinery as almost every 16-19 academy and there can be no defence for treating them differently when it comes to teacher pay.
“Now a final decision has been made, we have again made it clear to the education secretary that his decision will have implications for an already underfunded sector. We will continue to robustly challenge the Department for Education’s decision, but the collective energies of schools and colleges should now be on the final stage of our funding campaign that will be launched next month with the specific aim of securing a significant increase in the 16-19 funding rate in next year's spending review.”
Pay negotiations for sixth-form colleges take place between the SFCA, representing the employers, and staff unions. At a meeting in July to discuss teacher pay from September 2018, the employers’ side made a pay offer of 1 per cent on all scale points and allowances. However, that offer was rejected as “disappointing” by unions.
The DfE has been contacted for comment.
Last month, the department confirmed that it would not stump up extra cash to fund a pay rise for FE college teachers and staff.