EU referendum 'chaos' could lead to even longer delays in teacher pay rises, unions warn

24th June 2016 at 15:39
Teachers 'desperately' need to know what will happen to their salaries before schools break up for the summer, officials say

Vital reports on teachers' pay and school funding are likely to be postponed further following the prime minister's resignation today, unions have warned.

Schools have been waiting for the publication of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) report on pay, and details of the national school funding formula for months – both of which could make crucial differences to their budgets.

But unions expect to be waiting even longer in light of today's vote to leave the European Union and the change in Number 10.

Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said: "It is a real concern that we have. The [information] should be available now [that the pre-referendum purdah has lifted] but Number 10 decide the order.

"With all the chaos, it is very unclear what we will get. Teachers desperately need to know what's going on with their pay."

TES revealed earlier this month that many teachers may have to wait until Christmas and beyond for salary increases that should be in their pay packets this September because of bureaucratic delays.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the headteachers' union the NAHT, has also warned that a series of education policies – including the national funding formula – could take a backseat.

"It seems unlikely that a government focused on the Brexit process and new leadership will give their attention to education policies," he told TES.

'Financial worries' for school leaders

School leaders will be concerned about the "financial implications" following the vote and the potential for an austerity budget or recession. "It’s more uncertain than it’s ever been," Mr Hobby added.

But he is hopeful that the government may choose to approve a simple rise to all salaries as the long delay makes it "hard for them to do radical things".

"They may do less rather than more in terms of changes. They could act more quickly, if they wanted to, by applying a 1 per cent cost-of-living award across the board," he said.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was too early to speculate on potential outcomes.

"There is no certainty at all as to what will happen," he said. "We will be asking the department next week to give us a timescale for these decisions.

“It is important that we get information soon because the end of term for some people is only three weeks away. These decisions need to be announced before we go into summer break."

The unions say a number of education policies could be affected by today's events. These include:

  • The STRB report: it was sent to ministers in April – but potential changes to teachers' salaries from September have still not been revealed;
  • The national school funding formula: this would need to be followed by a three-month consultation, plus time for the government to analyse the responses, and develop and finalise its proposals before it can be introduced;
  • Year 7 resits of Sats: the NUT believe this is an initiative from Number 10 that might be dropped due to its unpopularity;
  • Consultation on making the English Baccalaureate compulsory for 90 per cent of Year 11 pupils – the Department for Education's response is still pending;
  • The education Bill designed to take forward controversial academisation plans: Kevin Courtney believes it is now uncertain whether this will ever see the light of day.

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