Schools will need to make "efficiencies" to afford this year's teacher pay rise, a minister has suggested.
The DfE this summer announced a pay award worth between 1.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent, which it originally described as “fully funded”.
But it later emerged that its £508 million teachers’ pay grant leaves schools having to fund the first 1 per cent, something schools minister Nick Gibb said they would have “already budgeted for”.
However, now another schools minister, Lord Agnew has now told peers that schools should be able to make "efficiencies" in order to afford it.
The suggestion has prompted a warning from the head who leads the Worth Less? campaign that “for many of us that ship sailed a long time ago”.
In a Lords debate yesterday, Labour education spokesperson Lord Watson told Lord Agnew that his speech he had “not mentioned the fact that schools are meant to meet the first 1 per cent of the pay rise themselves, so that is not funded”.
Lord Agnew responded: “The noble lord is correct that the first 1 per cent of the pay rise is expected to be funded by schools. We believe that that is possible within the efficiencies that I have mentioned.”
Earlier in his speech, the minister had outlined a new DfE strategy which gives schools “practical advice on how to identify potential savings from their non-staff spend”, and highlighted its “national deals to help schools save money on items they buy regularly”.
Jules White, a secondary school head who leads the Worth Less? campaign for increased school funding, told Tes: “The first 1 per cent of the pay rise is another real terms cost to schools. It often amounts to tens of thousands of pounds in each school.
“Every headteacher has a duty to find efficiencies but for many of us that ship sailed a long time ago.”
He instead said that “the real efficiencies are to be found in the DfE itself”, citing free schools created where there is no basic need, the accountability system, and “a selection of ideological projects that have little or no impact.”
In the debate, former Labour schools minister Lord Knight raised concerns about school funding, teacher recruitment and testing.
He said: “It is estimated that in this country we spend around £2 billion per year on testing in our schools. Let us just say we halve that: £1 billion could go a long way in helping with some of these problems.”
He called for testing to be used “for formative rather than summative purposes as assessment for learning”.
He added: “A more diverse 14 to 19 curriculum could be created, perhaps by abolishing GCSEs at 16 and ending the national curriculum at 14 to free up the years from 14 to 19 for a much more engaging curriculum experience.”
- Lord Knight is the chief education adviser at Tes Global.