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Heads' pay rises as teachers denied an increase, union claims

Reporting by Darren Evans, Stephen Exley and Kaye Wiggins

A union leader has called for an end to headteachers paying themselves “six-figure sums” while blocking teachers’ pay progression.

Speaking at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Cardiff, general secretary Chris Keates claimed two-thirds of teachers had been refused pay progression in schools while heads were increasing their salaries in secret.

She claimed some heads’ salaries were being negotiated between them and chairs of governors without being approved by governing bodies, and that some heads were benefiting from packages including cars and gym membership.

“We can see no reason why chief executives of NHS trusts, union general secretaries, politicians all have their salaries published on an annual basis while headteachers are excluded from that,” she said.

“We are not about not paying a salary commensurate for the job [but] what we want is to know the process by which that decision was made... That’s just the tip of the iceberg; sometimes you have packages including cars, gym memberships, all sort of things at a time when last year two thirds of teachers were refused pay progression in schools.”

Figures published by the Department for Education last year revealed that more than 900 heads were paid £100,000 or more.

Labour education spokesman Tristram Hunt said Labour was keen to attract new headteachers into the profession and support them, but said transparency was important.

“We need transparency in the system about where tax-payers money is going,” he said.

“What really concerns me about headteachers’ contracts at the moment is I do not like confidentiality clauses. We are seeing more and more reports about heads leaving schools with confidentiality clauses.”

The union unanimously passed a motion in support of potentially backing "continuing industrial action" over teachers' pay, if the issue is not addressed by the next government.

Executive member for Derby Keith Muncey said it was "shocking that graduates in similar professions start their careers 25 per cent ahead of any teacher", adding: "This is one of the reasons why so many leave."

In another debate, Austin Murphy, a teacher based in Leeds, said the NASUWT should  “think about the possibility of joining with other unions in trying to set out the possibility of moving forward in a different way".

“We need to put out a clear message that we are thinking along the lines of doing something different and opposing this government strongly,” he said. 

“We need to consider alternative approaches to expose and undermine a future Tory government, and that is what I hope we will be able to do.”

Meanwhile at the NUT conference in Harrogate, plans for a series of strikes put forward in response to a motion about workload and accountability were voted down by delegates.

Executive member Martin-Powell Davies hit out at the “cold heart of a Tory politician who pretended to care” about workload, in a thinly-veiled reference to Nicky Morgan’s response to the Workload Challenge, which has been widely criticised by the unions.

Mr Powell-Davies, who last year was beaten in the vote to become general secretary of the union by incumbent Christine Blower, said it was time for a different strategy, calling for a strike in September, followed by two more in November and further action in January if no concessions have been won.

But the amendment was vetoed, after it was voted down by 59 per cent to 41 per cent.

However a priority motion due to be debated tomorrow also calls for a ballot for strike and non-strike action over school funding.


Related stories:

Hunt: Labour to end government's 'hostile' relationship with teachers - 4 April 2015

Union back boycott of baseline tests for four-year-olds - 4 April 2015


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