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24 January 2019

Teachers across UK denied pay rise despite government pledge

An NASUWT survey suggests schools are not using funding as intended. 

By Rohan Banerjee

Thousands of UK teachers have been told by their schools that they will not be receiving a pay rise this year, despite additional government funding being made available for this purpose.

Earlier this month the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, told parliament that while the Department for Education had explicitly recommended that schools should put the Teachers’ Pay Grant – worth £187m in 2018-19 –  towards pay, “it is for schools to decide how best to spend the funds.”

A survey of 6,900 teachers carried out by the NASUWT union, which is due to be published in full in the coming weeks, found that 12 per cent of respondents had been told they were not getting any increase in salary, with a further 45 per cent yet to be given a decision either way.

Last year, the government set out a pay grant totalling £508m – which included the £187m for 2018-19 – to part-fund a pay rise of between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent for teachers, depending on their level of seniority. In practice, however, official figures from the DfE indicate that, on average, the percentage of school budgets spent on teachers’ salaries has dropped to 46 per cent, compared to 51 per cent in 2017-18.

Chris Keates, the NASUWT’s general secretary, said: “It is clear from the emerging findings from the survey that teachers continue to be denied their entitlements in relation to an annual pay award and pay progression. It is a shocking indictment of the failure of [the] government and employers to ensure that teachers are recognised and rewarded.”

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The impact of poor management and disagreements over pay, the NASUWT went on to report, represents a risk to the stability of the teaching profession at large, with 19 per cent of those surveyed claiming they were considering quitting their job. The majority (80 per cent) of teachers said that excessive workloads were also contributing to that feeling.

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Meanwhile, 38 per cent stated that they had concerns over students’ poor discipline, and 58 per cent said they were “angry” about their working conditions and thought that teachers were being unfairly treated.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education questioned these findings, highlighting that the government had offered teachers “the biggest pay award in almost ten years… We do not believe that schools are withholding these awards, and there is no evidence that schools are accumulating cash at the expense of educational delivery.”

Keates said that the government’s attitude adds “insult to injury” for NASUWT members, and helps to explain why “the education service is facing the worst teacher recruitment and retention crisis since World War Two.”