Schools on brink of ‘full-blown funding crisis’, teachers warn

Unions claim new pay rises are too low but are also angry no extra fresh cash is being offered

Jane Dalton
Friday 22 July 2022 00:29 BST
Teacher shortages are hitting most schools, it’s claimed
Teacher shortages are hitting most schools, it’s claimed (Getty Images)

Schools have been put on the brink of a full-blown funding crisis by the latest teachers’ pay award, unions claim.

Teachers’ leaders say the pay rise of 5 per cent announced this week will worsen a shortage of staff after a pay freeze in the last financial year and “pay erosion since 2010”.

Unions are considering strikes after the government announced on Tuesday that experienced teachers will get a 5 per cent rise for the next academic year, and the starting salary for teachers outside London will rise by 8.9 per cent, with those salaries reaching £28,000.

With the key measure of inflation at 9.4 per cent, the unions that represent most teachers and school leaders in England say the awards represent “a significant real-terms cut to the salaries of most teachers and all school leaders”.

The average teacher salary is £42,360, but the school leaders claim the salary rises “put at further risk the supply line of staff on which schools depend”, potentially damaging England’s education system.

However, they also expressed anger that no extra funding was announced to meet the salary bills, warning that schools will have to foot the bill from budgets already under “severe strain”.

“The award is higher than the Department for Education itself deemed affordable in its evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body, so it beggars belief that it comes with no additional funding,” they said in a statement.

“This contributes to very severe teacher shortages, which are affecting the vast majority of schools.”

Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The government has managed at a single stroke to put schools on the brink of a full-blown funding crisis while also further damaging the teacher supply line on which they depend. It is a masterclass in mismanagement that puts educational standards at risk.”

Paul Whiteman, of the NAHT, said: “The below-inflation pay award after a decade of cuts will do little to stem the loss of experienced teachers and leaders.

“And the failure to fund schools properly means that school budgets will be under further pressure.

“This is no way to ensure that children receive the quality of education they deserve. It is a reckless gamble with the future of the country.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said the government accepted the recommendations of the independent School Teachers’ Review Body.

“This year’s pay award is a responsible solution which recognises the hard work of teachers and supports with the cost of living, and the sound management of schools’ budgets.

“By contrast, double-digit pay awards for public-sector workers would lead to sustained higher levels of inflation, which would have a far bigger impact on people’s real incomes in the long run.

“Funding for these pay awards will come from the generous school funding settlement at last year’s spending review. The settlement is heavily frontloaded with £4bn extra going into schools this year and a total increase of £7bn over the three years up to 2024-25.”

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