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Education Teachers demand an end to real-terms pay cuts to tackle recruitment crisis

TEACHERS are demanding a “significant” pay increase to end the crisis facing the profession.

Five education unions issued a joint statement to the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) saying it is a “matter of justice and fairness” that teacher and school leaders should stop having to shoulder real-terms pay cuts.

And the increase must be fully funded by the government as school budgets are already “at breaking point,” warned the National Education Union (NEU), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Welsh teachers’ union Ucac and Voice.

Without additional funding, they say, paying staff fairly while fully funding the curriculum will be “impossible.”

Teachers’ real pay has declined over the last seven years, sparking widespread recruitment and retention problems.

And the matter has been made worse by “demoralising” differentiated pay rises across the regions of England and Wales, say the unions. Instead, they are calling for a new set pay benchmark.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Children’s education is at risk — insufficient recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers is a very real problem.

“To begin to address this, it is essential that teacher workload is reduced and that the government now commits to reducing a restorative pay rise, starting with a significant real-terms increase in 2018, which is fully funded.”

The call comes just days before the deadline for submissions to the STRB, which recommends pay increases for the teaching profession.

Last year, the government accepted the STRB’s recommendation of a paltry 1 per cent rise to all teachers’ pay apart from the main pay range, which it said should see a 2 per cent increase at the minimum and maximum of the scale.

But the unions wrote to then Education Secretary Justine Greening demanding a 5 per cent rise in pay from this September “as a first step to restoring pay levels in real terms.”

A two-year pay freeze was put in place in 2011 and 2012 — since then, a cap of 1 per cent has been imposed by the government as part of austerity measures.

A Department for Education spokeswoman claimed that the government’s changes “have given schools greater freedom than ever before on teacher pay, and we expect them to recognise and reward the best talent working in our schools.”

It said that it had written to the STRB to say that it should take account of the government’s new more flexible approach to public-sector pay.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner gave Labour’s backing to the fight, saying: “It’s high time that ministers listened to teachers and scrapped the cap immediately, as well as reversing the pernicious cuts to school budgets.”

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