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Heads’ anger over lack of clarity on teachers' pay award

DfE formally announces teachers' pay award, but heads fear another 'real-terms budget cut'

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DfE formally announces teachers' pay award, but heads fear another 'real-terms budget cut'

Headteachers say they are confused by the Department for Education's “lack of clarity” over how much cash individual schools will receive to cover the proposed teachers’ pay increase.

The DfE has today formally announced its decision to award a 3.5 per cent pay increase to teachers on the main pay scale while those on the upper pay and leadership scales will receive 2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

The department has also published a methodology outlining how it will distribute a £508 million pay grant to cover schools’ extra wage bill above the first 1 per cent of the pay rise.

But heads say they are still unsure as to whether the grant will only cover pay rises for teachers on the “maxima” and “minima” points of pay scales, or whether it will also cover those on the mid points on the scales.

Headteacher Jules White, of Tanbridge House School in West Sussex, said the “lack of clarity” had “eroded trust and made secure financial planning even more challenging”, adding that schools that tried to pay staff at all points on pay scales could suffer “yet another real-terms cut”.

He said: “Surely the DfE can be clear if it’s the minima and maxima or all points in between.

“If the DfE has been trying to slip this through, there will be consternation among heads and governing bodies, as matters become clear to us all.”

Today’s DfE methodology states that the £508m pay grant will be divided between primary, secondary and special schools based on the size of the teacher wage bill for each sector. The amount for each sector will then be divided between the number of pupils to generate a per-pupil rate. For outer-London secondary schools, this rate is £26.54 per pupil, for example.

Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) union, said many schools would have already calculated what the cost of the pay rise would be, and that they now needed to see if it matched the amount being offered according to the rate within the methodology.

She said: “We will be studying the detail carefully, and seeking feedback from our members to ensure that the allocations are sufficient. It is essential that schools are not left having to find additional funding from budgets that are already under huge pressure and from which they have already had to find the first 1 per cent of the pay award.”

Last week, a joint letter from the main teaching unions criticised the DfE for not including details in its consultation over the pay award about how the £508m pay grant would be distributed.

The letter, signed by leaders of the NEU teachers' union, the NAHT heads' union, ASCL, Voice, and Wales’ UCAC union, stated: “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 because they are working with a challenging intake of pupils or engaged in a teaching school or other examples of system leadership.

“It is also important to recognise the higher staffing levels in special schools and alternative provision in designing the pay grant. We are deeply uncomfortable that the government is not allowing us the opportunity to provide formal views on this part of the proposal.”

The DfE has been asked to clarify whether the pay grant will cover pay rises for teachers on the mid points within pay scales. 

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