A 6.5 per cent pay rise for teachers would not be enough to solve the recruitment and retention crisis, a union leader has warned.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, was speaking amid indications the government is set to announce a 6.5 per cent pay rise for nurses and paramedics over three years.
Yesterday, research from the National Foundation for Educational Research found that teachers' average hourly pay had fallen by 15 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16, while that of nurses fell by 4 per cent.
Mr Courtney said there was “some optimism” over the NHS pay deal, because it includes new money from the Treasury and rows back on proposals for staff to give up a day’s holiday.
However, he added: “But 6.5 per cent across three years? That’s a long way short of us saying we want 5 per cent, fully funded, this year.”
Demands for teacher pay
Speaking ahead of the annual conference of the NUT section of the NEU, which takes place over Easter, he said: “We have already a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention and if we don’t act soon it will be a catastrophe.
“I think 6.5 per cent across two years would not be enough to avert the coming problems. They need to act on workload and they need to act on pay, and in some areas in addition to that they have to act on housing as well if they are going to avert the coming problems.”
He warned that teachers and potential students see that teacher salaries are “not competitive with other graduate salaries” – and said that on top of this, performance related pay and pay flexibilities in academies meant they had no certainty about what they would be paid in the future.
NEU delegates will debate a motion calling for an “initial pay rise of at least 5 per cent to begin restoring the cuts in living standards all school staff have suffered”.
It also says the union should “be prepared to ballot members on strike action in pursuit of our pay demand” if internal polling suggested there would be support for industrial action.