Leaders of most of the country’s main teaching unions have issued a joint statement tonight rejecting the government’s proposals on pay – which they say amounts to a real-terms cut for 60 per cent of teachers.
As education secretary Damian Hinds appeared unrepentant over the proposals in an exclusive interview with Tes today, unions have sent him a joint letter that says “hard-working" teachers and leaders found it "deeply insulting".
The letter is signed by leaders of the NEU, the NAHT headteachers’ union, the Association of School and College Leaders, Voice and Wales’ UCAC union.
Responding to the government's pay offer consultation – which ends today – the letter criticises the proposals, which include a 3.5 per cent increase for teachers on the main pay scale, with those on the upper pay rate (UPR) and leadership teachers receiving 2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively, compared to a current rate of inflation of 2.4 per cent.
The letter says the proposals will add to the deepening recruitment and retention crisis in the teaching profession, and criticises the government for ignoring its own independent pay review body, the School Teachers' Review Body, which recommended a 3.5 per cent pay increase for all teachers.
The letter states: “No reason has been provided for this departure from the independent pay review body’s clear recommendation of what is required to protect the profession.
“Their report considered the potential for a differentiated award but concluded that there were recruitment and retention challenges at all levels in the profession that required a consistent uplift to all ranges and allowances.
“There has been no justification given for a proposal to award UPR and leadership scale teachers a lesser pay award, and one that, below the cost of living, will see a further decline in the value of their pay.
“We roundly reject this proposal. It has been received as deeply insulting by our hard-working members who are experienced teachers and school leaders, at a time when you have personally acknowledged the enormous workload and pressure that they face in delivering the government’s education policies.”
The unions also say the consultation has not provided details about the proposed pay grant of £508 million that will part-fund the pay increase, with schools themselves having to fund 1 per cent of it.
“We are deeply uncomfortable that the government is not allowing us the opportunity to provide formal views on this part of the proposal,” said the unions.
The letter adds: “It is imperative that the grant to each school reflects the shape of their staffing structure and does not disadvantage those with higher staffing costs.”
Mr Hinds, speaking to Tes today in an exclusive interview, said that he decided to hand a real-terms pay cut to senior teachers and school leaders so he could concentrate on those who are paid less.
He said: “Look, we all want teachers and leaders in schools to be well rewarded for what they do…but we still have had very significant fiscal constraints.”