Pay austerity anger as school reserves reach £4bn

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A teaching union has voiced its frustration at on-going austerity over teachers’ pay at a time when schools are holding around £4 billion in their reserves.

The NASUWT says that thousands of teachers are being denied the pay awards and progression they are entitled to.

This is despite recent Department for Education figures showing total surplus balances of £2.4 billion in the academy sector and £1.56 billion in the maintained school sector.

In 2018/19, teachers were granted a minimum pay award of 3.5 per cent for the main pay range, two per cent for the upper pay range and 1.5 per cent for school leaders.

The DfE made £187 million of additional funding available through the Teachers’ Pay Grant for 2018/19, although it was pointed out at the time that this did not cover the full 2018/19 pay award.

Now, a NASUWT membership survey featuring 6,900 responses from teachers in England reveals that 57 per cent of teachers have not received the minimum pay award for 2018/19.

Furthermore, only 50 per cent of the respondents said that their pay progression for 2017/18 had been agreed.

Last week, SecEd reported on an Education Policy Institute study showing that 30 per cent of maintained secondary schools were running a financial deficit in 2017/18, up from eight per cent in 2014. The average deficit stands at £483,500.

Deficit figures are not available for individual academy schools. However, the report also scrutinised school in-year balances (from 2016/17), finding that at secondary level 50 per cent of academies were spending more than their income compared to 64 per cent of maintained schools.

However, at the same time, many schools are holding surpluses and the NASUWT points out that if these were re-allocated to teacher pay it would generate an additional £8,763 per full-time teacher.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates 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 government and employers to ensure that teachers are recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals that, year-on-year since 2011, the percentage of the school budget allocated for teachers’ pay has dramatically reduced and now stands at an average of only 46 per cent across the school system.

“Teachers are rightly angry and frustrated at the seeming indifference of ministers to ensure they are recognised and rewarded fairly for the work they do.”
She added: “The NASUWT is continuing to support members across the country who are determined to challenge their employer on pay by taking industrial action.”


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