Education International
Education International

UK: Teacher unions unite to demand salary boost

published 9 January 2017 updated 12 January 2017

Six education unions from the UK have made a joint submission to the national review body calling for a “significant” salary increase for teachers, whose pay has been frozen or capped since 2011.

In a single submission to the UK’s School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers, both affiliated to Education International (EI), together with the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers, Voice and the Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru in Wales called for a “significant pay increase” for teachers to address a “crisis” in recruitment and retention.

In the joint statement, the unions stress that “we are not recruiting enough teachers and too many are leaving the profession, worn down by relentless overwork, stress and pressure”.

They link this recruitment and retention crisis to declining pay, where teachers’ and school leaders’ salaries have been cut by 11.5 percent in real terms between 2010 and 2016 “as a result of six years of pay freezes and pay caps,” according to their evidence.

Issues ignored

Claiming that this has made the profession less attractive to potential entrants, they underline that Education Secretary Justine Greening “failed to recognise” these issues in her submission to the STRB, which said any rise in teacher pay should continue to be capped at one percent overall.

The six unions argue that a “significant pay increase” is now “imperative” to meet existing demand for teachers and to respond to the 750,000 growth in pupil numbers forecast by 2025.

Cost of living increase

They are, however, “totally opposed” to pay awards being based solely on performance, arguing that all teachers should get a cost of living increase so wages can keep pace with inflation.

Increases to pay in September 2017 must also be “fully funded” to save schools from having to pay for salary rises out of their own stretched budgets, the unions add.

The STRB will issue its recommendations later this year, although the government is not obliged to accept them.