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Education unions react angrily to ‘unacceptable’ pay-freeze insult

TEACHING unions have reacted angrily to confirmation of another “unacceptable” real-terms pay cut under the government’s public-sector freeze.

A  statement issued on Wednesday by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson indicated that only teaching staff in England currently paid less than £24,000 will receive a rise of just £250.

Mr Williamson said that he had “accepted” a recommendation by the School Teachers’ Review Board (STRB) — but left it to the board to point out that he had instructed it only to consider a rise for the lowest-paid.

A joint statement by teachers’ and school and college leaders’ unions warned that the freeze would “add to the damage caused by below-inflation pay increases for teachers and school leaders since 2010.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The government’s pay freeze for teachers is demoralising and presages further teacher and recruitment difficulties as we come out of the pandemic.

“Any government that truly values education would also value educators: this government doesn’t.”

School leaders’ union NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “This pay cut risks further eroding leadership supply, and risks prompting an exodus of leaders when the pandemic finally lifts.

“A slap in the face doesn’t begin to describe it.”

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said that the “insulting” pay freeze “is also potentially damaging to teacher recruitment and retention and may therefore undermine educational standards and recovery.”

Deborah Lawson, assistant general secretary of Community’s Voice section, described the freeze as “a body blow for an already demoralised and exhausted profession crushed by the ongoing weight of workload and the huge demands made of them.”

The unions blasted the STRB for failing to assert its independence.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green slammed the government for breaking its manifesto pledge to raise teachers’ starting salaries, adding that the freeze was “an insult after the heroic work they have done to keep children safe and learning throughout the pandemic.”

A government spokesperson said: “The pause to most public-sector workforce pay rises ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented government spending on the response to Covid-19.”

 

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