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Teacher pay: NAHT wants ‘double digit’ 2024 pay rise

The government must hand teachers and leaders a “double digit” pay rise next year, the country’s largest headteachers’ union has said.

The National Association of Head Teachers, which mostly represents primary leaders, has published its evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body.

In it, the organisation called for an increase above the CPI inflation rate for June 2023, which was 7.3 per cent.

For the avoidance of doubt, the uplift required to signal change to the profession will need to be in double digits

They also want an “additional element to begin restoration of the real terms value of teachers’ and school leaders’ pay against losses caused by below inflation uplifts since 2010”.

It comes after the government warned the STRB it wanted to see pay rises return to a “more sustainable” level than in the last two years, when pay rose by 5 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively.

The government’s analysis has also predicted schools will only have headroom to raise spending by 1.2 per cent next year, which would only cover a rise of around 2 per cent. Inflation stood at 4 per cent in January.

ASCL, the NAHT’s sister union which mostly represents secondary leaders, called last week for a “fully-funded, above inflation pay increase” next year and a plan to “fully restore the erosion of pay” since 2010.

Union urges ‘major correction’

In its evidence, the NAHT urged the STRB to “recommend a major correction to teaching professionals’ pay through an undifferentiated, fully funded uplift to all salaries and allowances in payment from September 2024”.

Last year, unions accepted a 6.5 per cent pay rise for most teachers, averting further strikes by the National Education Union and potential walk-outs by the NASUWT, NAHT and ASCL, which balloted for strike action for the first time.

But Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis shows pay for experienced teachers fell by around 12 per cent in real-terms between 2010 and 2022.

To be effective, any pay rise next year must “improve the competitiveness of teaching professionals’ pay against earnings in the wider economy”, NAHT said.

It must be higher than 7.3 per cent – the CPI inflation rate recorded in the year to last June – unless monthly measures of inflation “rise above this level between now and September”.

And it must contain an “additional element to begin restoration of the real terms value of teachers’ and school leaders’ pay against losses caused by below inflation uplifts since 2010”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the uplift required to signal change to the profession will need to be in double digits.”

The union said its proposal was “not for a pay ‘increase’”.

“Rather it simply seeks the necessary improvements to protect current salaries against inflation, improve pay competitiveness, and restore the value of pay to 2010 levels.”

Inflation ‘baked in’

They also warned that “any reduction in the rate of current inflation merely indicates that prices are increasing at a slower rate”.

“Should the rate by which prices are increasing abate, previous inflation, and the detriment to salaries caused by over a decade of below inflation uplifts, remain baked in.”

The NAHT has also called for a “clear action plan and timeframe to resolve the longstanding issues that result from the current broken and dysfunctional pay system” after the general election, which needs to be held by January 2025 at the latest.

They want “mandatory minimum pay points and pay portability”, a “comprehensive review” of the factors that determine leadership pay and a “professional pay continuum that supports new career pathways and delivers pay progression for teachers and school leaders”.

Government should also “codify” executive leadership roles within a revised pay and conditions document, including or aligning school business leader roles.

The NAHT also wants “protected leadership time for assistant and deputy head teachers, and head teachers of small schools”, along with the promotion of “genuinely flexible approaches to working, such as phased retirement options”.

The union pointed to last year’s teacher workforce census figures, which showed teacher vacancies at the highest level since 2010.

Across teaching and leadership roles, the number rose to 2,334 in 2022-23, compared with 1,564 the year before – a rise of 49 per cent.

General secretary Paul Whiteman said: “These figures show the real-life impact of the government’s neglect of teaching staff over the last decade.

“For every school that is missing a permanent member of staff, that is a teacher not present for children in the way that is so vitally needed.”

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