Unions will reject Nadhim Zahawi’s 9pc pay rise for new teachers

·3 min read
Nadhim Zahawi's 9 per cent pay rise for new teachers will boost support for strikes, union chief claims - Danny Lawson /PA
Nadhim Zahawi's 9 per cent pay rise for new teachers will boost support for strikes, union chief claims - Danny Lawson /PA

Teaching unions have said they will reject a proposed offer of pay rises of up to nine per cent, hours after it was revealed by The Telegraph.

Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, has written to the Treasury asking for the near-inflation pay hike for new teachers and a five per cent increase for established teachers as part of an attempt to see off the threat of industrial action.

The proposed five per cent pay settlement for the majority of teachers in England who have been qualified for more than five years is an improvement on the three per cent planned by the Government in March.

However, Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said offering a bigger pay rise to new teachers would leave established teachers feeling “undervalued”.

“If you have a different set of pay rises, what that means is that experienced teachers are in effect subsidising beginning teachers,” she told The Telegraph. “They’ve done quite enough subsidising everybody else and suffering from austerity. We want a fully-funded general pay rise for all teachers.”

She said long-serving teachers “don’t feel valued”, adding: “They’re acutely aware now that the value of their pay has gone down by a fifth in the last 10 years.”

Mr Zahawi wants to give the 130,000 teachers in England in the first five years of their careers a rise of up to nine per cent from September as part of moves to take starting salaries to £30,000. The remaining 380,000 teachers in England are in line for the five per cent increase.

His decision to back an improved pay offer of five per cent comes after it was recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body, an independent panel appointed by the Government to advise on salary increases, The Telegraph understands.

Teachers’ salaries fell by around five per cent for new and less experienced teachers between 2007 and 2021, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. For more experienced teachers, salaries fell by 8 per cent in real terms over the same period.

Dr Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), another union, said: “Talk of a pay award of five per cent for the vast majority of teachers doesn’t come close to what is needed.”

The NEU, the UK’s largest teaching union, is planning to ballot its members on industrial action in October if they are not given a pay rise that matches inflation. The NASUWT has said it will also ballot members in the autumn term if staff are not given a 12 per cent pay rise. The two unions represent the vast majority of staff in schools.

Mr Zahawi has previously warned that a teachers’ strike would be “unforgivable and unfair” in the wake of Covid.

Dr Bousted said the Education Secretary has held regular Zoom calls with the NEU but called for the union to be invited into the Department for Education for “direct negotiations” on pay.

“Teachers have seen a greater degree of work intensification than any other profession. So when teachers look at 55 to 60-hour working weeks, and then calculate that against their pay, it’s the combination of those two things. There’s a lot to negotiate about.”

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