October 2017

The know zone

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Sara Ford explains the real implications of the STRBís recommendations on teacher pay.

To pay or not to pay?

The School Teachersí Review Body (STRB) report and long-awaited teacher pay recommendations were finally published on 10 July, long after most school budgets had been set.

And while the headline was that the recommendations remained within the governmentís 1% public sector pay cap, there was a sting in the tail for those schools with a large number of teachers on the main pay range.

To try to address some of the recruitment and retention issues facing the sector, the STRB had recommended that the minimum and maximum of the main pay range should be increased by 2%.

Was the headline wrong? Not really. Because by the time you calculate how many teachers there are in England and Wales in each pay range (as well as allowance entitlements), multiply that by the relevant percentage increase and then round to the nearest percentage point, it comes to 1%.

But that will be cold comfort to those schools now facing calls for larger pay uplifts from their main pay range teachers at a time of significant financial pressure.

So, do you need to pay the 2%? According to the school teachersí pay and conditions document (STPCD), the uplift must be applied to those on the minimum of a range but, for all others, schools must determine, in accordance with their own pay policies, how to apply the rise.

Circular argument

And this is where it gets messy. Because too many pay polices still say that they will apply the uplift in line with the STPCD Ė which is all rather circular.

If a policy is not clear, then formal consultation will need to take place with teachers and their professional associations/ unions before pay policies and pay scales for September 2017 are finalised, requiring a quick turnaround at the start of the academic year.

During these consultations, all of the teacher unions, including ASCL, will be arguing that the uplift should be applied to all teachers and leaders.

Why are all the teacher unions in agreement on this? In our submissions to the STRB we made clear that there needed to be a pay increase above 1% to help address recruitment and retention issues. The STRBís primary role is to help ensure sufficient quality and quantity of teachers into the profession through an appropriate pay and conditions framework.

The governmentís target for recruitment to the professions has been missed for the fifth year running and, in an increasingly competitive graduate market, teachersí pay has dropped in real terms by 12%.

The STRBís recommendations fall some way short of what is needed but, if not implemented for all, it will further undermine a seriously weakened pay structure.

In fact, the current school budget quantum is insufficient regardless of any uplift. This is why ASCL continues to argue the case that the government must either guarantee that all pay increases will be fully funded or that school budgets will be increased to fully fund all pay rises. We made this point in our response to the consultation on the pay recommendation to the Secretary of State and expressed our disappointment that she did not address this yearís pay award in her statement to Parliament on school funding.

Support staff pay, including that of business managers and business leaders, comes under the National Joint Council (NJC) for local government services, so the STRB recommendations donít cover them. However, the same principles will apply.

False economy

Despite the continued funding pressures, it is a false economy to ignore the considered recommendations of the STRB. They are looking at the whole picture and working to ensure that the pay structure attracts and retains teachers.

Ultimately, it is the annual uplift that keeps teachersí pay competitive in the graduate market and we let it fall further behind at our peril.

Pay and Conditions Know Zone

ASCLís new online Pay and Conditions Know Zone will keep you up to date with the latest news and information relating to pay and conditions for school staff in England and Wales, including the STPCD and STRB, and regular updates from Sara Ford. See more here: www.ascl.org.uk/pckz

Sara Ford
ASCL Pay, Conditions and Employment Specialist