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Kick in the teeth for teachers

Following the biggest pay rise given to teachers in 15 years a teaching union has complained that the rise is a “kick in the teeth” for long-serving staff.

Nine hundred thousand public sector workers were awarded an above-inflation boost as a reward for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers were given a salary increase averaging 3.1 per cent with new teachers getting a 5.5 per cent lift, and longer-serving teachers and leaders getting a lower rate of 2.75 per cent.

The larger pay increase for new teachers is part of a plan to attract more graduates by raising starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022. Geoff Barton, general secretary for the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the disparity between the pay awards was not “fair or reasonable” adding, “this won’t help to keep long-serving teachers in the profession and feels like a kick in the teeth”.

Dr Mary Bousted, the National Education Union joint general secretary, said that more experienced teachers “must see their immense hard work and efforts rewarded fairly, and this pay award does not do that”.

Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning below £21,000. After that all rises were capped at 1 per cent until 2017, when inflation averaged 2.7 per cent.

A day after revealing the rises Chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested that there would be no more big increases for several years for public sector workers, as he told ministers to make “tough choices”. The Chancellor said the Government would need to “exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards” to ensure that public sector pay levels “retain parity with the private sector” across the whole spending review period.

Mr Sunak began his autumn spending review by ordering ministers to look into cutting down communications departments, moving offices out of London and reviewing quangos, as ways of saving money in their departments.

He also appeared to pull back on his March Budget commitment to increase public sector spending by 2.8 per cent a year above inflation. Instead, no set spending “envelope” has been fixed, although departments have been told that their budgets will grow above inflation.

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