This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to improve your website experience and provide more personalized services to you, both on this website and through other media. To find out more about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy. We won't track your information when you visit our site. But in order to comply with your preferences, we'll have to use just one tiny cookie so that you're not asked to make this choice again.

Theresa May accused of insulting teachers as pay rise is held at 1%

Theresa May has been accused of insulting teachers by offering them a 1% pay rise after she refused to bow to pressure from some Tory MPs, Labour and trade unions to begin easing the public sector wage cap.

The Department for Education said it would accept the recommendation of a 1% pay rise made by the independent pay review body, days after an open revolt by some senior cabinet ministers who said the seven-year cap should be lifted.


Labour said the government was causing a recruitment crisis in schools by holding down pay, while the award was described as “an insult” by the Liberal Democrats. Teachers’ unions said that salaries will have fallen 15% behind inflation since 2010.

The pay deal for more than 500,000 teachers was the first to be announced since Tory MPs raised concerns over public sector pay earlier this month following the party’s disastrous election performance, which saw it lose its overall majority, with public sector workers turning to Labour.

Some of May’s own senior team, including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt, had indicated they thought it was time to increase pay for public sector workers.

But the prime minister appears to have kept a temporary lid on the cabinet rebellion for now, after her chancellor, Philip Hammond, challenged his colleagues to hold their nerve on austerity until they have found a way to pay for any wage increases.

Pressure is now building on May and Hammond to announce a review of public sector pay in the autumn budget. Some Tory MPs had been concerned it would look unfair to nurses and NHS workers, who got only a 1% rise in pay in the spring, if the government had been more generous to teachers, police and prison officers only after suffering a poor election result.

But some are making the case for Hammond to announce a change in the 1% pay policy – set out in a remit letter to pay review bodies – in the autumn, boosting the wages of public sector workers halfway through the year. Pressure is compounded by the recent increases in inflation, which rose by 2.9% in the 12 months to July, adding to the impact in real terms.

Former Conservative minister Dan Poulter told the Guardian there was a “strongly moral and financial case” for this 1% deal for teachers to be revisited at the autumn budget to give teachers a pay rise at least in line with inflation. 

The MP, who is running for chair of the Commons education committee, also said he was “concerned that the true independence of the pay review body process
is being compromised when there is a clear instruction and expectation from the government for the pay review bodies to ensure that increases in teaching pay are capped at 1%”.

The pay deal drew widespread condemnation from opposition parties. Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “While the education secretary [Justine Greening] says she has accepted the recommendations of the pay review body, they were forced to accept the arbitrary 1% pay cap. The simple fact is that teachers are still facing a real terms pay cut.”

Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, said: “Giving teachers another below-inflation pay rise is frankly an insult to these incredibly hard-working and dedicated professionals.”

Over the weekend, it emerged that around a quarter of the teachers who have qualified since 2011 have already left the profession. Analysis of official figures shows that more than 27,500 teachers who trained between 2011 and 2015 had already left the job by last year. It means that just over 23% of about 117,000 teachers who qualified over the period have left.

Kevin Courtney, the NUT general secretary, warned Theresa May: “This is a missed opportunity which the government will come to regret as the teacher recruitment and retention crisis gets worse.”

The government made its announcement following a recommendation from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the independent body that advises the government on teachers’ salaries.

In reality, the STRB had little choice but to maintain the 1% cap in line with the government’s public sector pay awards, but it also reiterated previous warnings that teachers continue to be paid less than other graduate professions, making it difficult to recruit and retain high-quality graduates as teachers.

Announcing the award, a Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise and value the hard work of teachers, which is why we have accepted the pay deal proposed by the independent School Teachers’ Review Body, in line with the 1% public sector pay policy. This will ensure we continue to strike the balance between being fair to public sector workers and fair to taxpayers.”

A small proportion of teachers at the bottom of the main pay scale will receive a 2% increase, but all increases will have to be funded within existing school budgets, which are known to be under increasing pressure as school employer costs rise.

A written ministerial statement by Greening, the education secretary, who was reported to have been sympathetic to both relaxing the pay cap and increasing public spending on schools, said: “The report contains recommendations on the pay award for teachers that is due to be implemented from September 2017, which are consistent with the government’s 1% public sector pay policy.

“I am grateful to the STRB for these recommendations and, subject to the views of consultees, I intend to accept all the key recommendations.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the move was deeply disappointing given the challenges schools face in recruitment and retention of teachers. “The STRB has had its hands tied. It is now crystal clear that the review body was not able to recommend a pay award based on the evidence. It is straight-jacketed by an overall 1% pay cap, and could not reflect the needs of schools to offer fair pay to their employees.

It was reported on Monday night that ministers are considering cutting back plans to build hundreds of new free schools in an attempt to plug a gap in the education budget. The government is struggling to meet a Tory manifesto pledge to increase education budgets by £4bn after being forced to abandon plans to scrap free lunches for infants, the Times said.

One option reportedly under consideration is scaling back or dropping altogether plans for more free schools. An education department spokesman told the Guardian: “The free schools programme is a key component of the government’s work to raise standards, increase parental choice, and provide the new school places we know we will need in the years ahead.”

Greening has been arguing for more money for the national funding formula, which will reallocate money between schools, to make sure there are no cash losers. However, ensuring that money is provided to shore up budgets could make it difficult to fulfill other promises, including the election pledge to further expand the free schools programme.

The Conservative general election manifesto promised to build “at least a hundred” new free schools every year.

Source: theguardian

Share This Post

related posts

On Top