UK: Raising the status and living conditions of Education Support Personnel

published 10 August 2023 updated 11 August 2023

Education International (EI) welcomes success achieved by the National Education Union, an EI member organisation in the UK, getting increased funding for schools to ensure that the pay awards are adequately funded and prevent the need for staffing cuts.

Putting a halt to cuts in ESP jobs

After a support staff online consultation, 85 per cent – on a turnout of 45 per cent – voted to accept the funding offer by the National Joint Council (NJC) negotiated by its recognised unions, Unison, GMB and Unite.

The NJC offer for 2023/24 is as follows:

  • an increase of £1,925 (pro rata for part-time employees) to be paid as a consolidated, permanent addition on all NJC pay points 2 to 43 inclusive;
  • an increase of 3.88 per cent on all allowances.

This offer equates to pay rises of between 9.42 per cent at the bottom of the pay spine to 3.88 per cent at the top.

For the bulk of support staff, the flat-rate offer represents an increase of between 6 and 8 per cent, slightly better than the Government’s improved offer to teachers.

Full details of the NJC offer are available here.

The NEU opened the funding ballot for support staff on 23 June 2023 and it will close on 11 August 2023. On this ballot, support staff are asked to vote on the school funding element of the offer only, ”as our dispute with the Government is on their failure to provide adequate and sufficient school funding, in particular for fully funded pay awards, leading to worsening employment terms, conditions and job security for school support staff.”

In the NEU support staff online consultation, 85 per cent voted to accept the funding element of the Government’s pay and funding offer, with turnout of 45 per cent.

The union believes that the Government's new offer on teacher pay and funding will ensure that teacher and support staff pay awards are adequately funded.

It also stresses that, crucially for support staff, the Government has confirmed dedicated and extra funding to properly fund the award.

According to the NEU, “while the offer does not resolve the broader funding issues in education, this is a major breakthrough on funding and represents a significant ‘win’. It has been secured by the action of NEU members, both the strike action of teacher colleagues, but also the support staff ballot and the prospect of joint action by support staff alongside their teacher colleagues in the autumn, not to mention leader and teacher colleagues in ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT.”

The NEU also underlines that this funding commitment will prevent the need for any staffing cuts in schools as a result of the award. It however warns that it will authorise joint teacher-support staff strike action at school level to prevent job losses if cuts are threatened.

Joining EI’s ‘Go Public! Fund Education’ campaign

The NEU has worked tirelessly in a funding campaign to achieve a better pay deal for its members. It has also been campaigning for more funding for schools and will continue to do so going forward.

The union PayUP! Save our schools campaign could not be more in tune with EI’s ‘Go Public! Fund Education’ campaign. The latter represents an urgent call for governments to invest in public education, a fundamental human right and public good, and to invest more in teachers and ESP, to achieve quality education.