Teaching unions issue joint school funding warning

11 Jan 16

School budgets are at “breaking point” as real terms funding cuts and mounting spending needs have put huge pressure on finances, a group of teacher unions has warned today.

In a rare joint statement, six unions from across the profession in England and Wales said schools faced “insurmountable pressure” to maintain current spending and may not be able to afford looming costs increases, such as higher national insurance contributions due in April as part of the government’s state pension reforms.

The full list of unions raising concerns is the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Association of Headteachers, the Association of School and College Leaders, UCAC, the national Welsh teachers union, and Voice, which represents teachers, headteachers and early years and childcare professionals.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said schools needed to be properly funded to afford the national insurance and teacher pension contributions they have to make, but they had “no resources” with which to do so.

He also highlighted that teacher recruitment was in crisis, and said that the government’s 1% limit to pay increases as part of public sector limits for the next four years was a major factor.

ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman added that four more years of pay austerity “is a false economy”.

The public sector pay policy of the past five years has depressed teachers’ real earnings to the extent that recruitment and retention are being seriously harmed, the statement continued.

The unions called on the School Teachers’ Review Body, which sets teachers’ pay, to recognise the crisis and recommend a fair pay award for teachers.

“Teachers are already leaving in droves and new graduates are looking elsewhere for a career,” Courtney added. “It is quite clear that unless teachers’ salaries reflect the work they do this is a situation that will only get worse, with disastrous consequences for education and pupils.”

“No amount of misleading advertising which claims that great teachers can earn £65,000 can cover up the basic pay problems,” he added.

However, a Department for Education spokesman said claims of a crisis amounted to “scaremongering”, and that government work to raise the status of teaching was attracting the best and brightest to a career in the classroom.

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