On April 3rd 2023, the NEU announced that it would be rejecting the most recent pay offer for teachers from government, following a ballot of their members on the issue. EPI responded to this development with thoughts on the overall outlook for education funding and teacher pay.
Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: “While the quantum of teacher pay increases is being negotiated by the Department for Education and the teaching unions, it is important to consider the overall context for schools.
“School funding is set to grow by £2.4bn in each of 2022-23 and 2023-24, but this comes on the back of a decade of real-term cuts to school budgets of around 9% per pupil (between 2010 and 2020). Not only were school budgets cut during that time, but funding for wider children’s services (including early intervention and youth services) was also cut by around 20% per child, according to the IFS. Since 2020, many young people have also fallen behind as a result of the pandemic and the gap between the most disadvantaged and the rest has continued to widen.
“So, while the additional funding for schools was intended to absorb the cost of increased energy prices and more modest increases to teacher pay, it was also, in the government’s own words, intended to “enable school leaders to continue to invest in the areas that we know positively impact educational attainment, including high quality teaching and targeted support to the children who need it most.“
“The government argues that the proposed increases to teacher pay are fully funded but, as its own analysis shows, there is only just about enough headroom to cover the current pay offer and expected inflationary costs. It does not compensate schools for the additional support they have had to provide for increasingly vulnerable pupils, nor does it recognise that much of the additional funding for high needs is earmarked for additional places in specialist provision (with funding for existing provision capped at a maximum 7% increase in the latest allocations).
“It’s likely that school leaders and teachers are not just worried about their pay, but also about having enough resources to support pupils’ education and wellbeing, particularly for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”