Funding cuts will hit teacher quality, say education unions

Date: 11.01.16
Teaching and school leadership unions’ joint statement to School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).


11 January 2016

Funding cuts will hit teacher quality, say education unions

Teaching and school leadership unions join together today in a statement to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), warning the Government risks undermining teaching standards due to a real terms reduction in funding and the continued erosion of teachers’ pay. 

Unions representing the full spectrum of the teaching profession in England and Wales are opposed to the Government's wish to continue to limit teachers' annual pay increases to an average of 1% for a further four years, following five years of imposed pay restraint. 

ASCL, ATL, NAHT, NUT, UCAC and Voice have submitted a joint document to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) which makes the following points: 

  • We are facing a national crisis in number of teachers and as pay and prospects improve in comparable occupations, further pressure will be placed on recruitment and retention. The STRB must accept that we are facing a national crisis, not “a challenge”, in teacher supply which means more children will not be taught by teachers qualified in the subject they teach. DfE data has failed to capture the scale of the crisis.
  •  School budgets are at breaking point  Schools are facing real terms cuts in funding, at a point when an overall funding increase is needed. Schools are under insurmountable pressure to maintain current spending, let alone afford pay increases or other forecast increases in costs such as national insurance increases coming in from April. The Government must fully fund the necessary pay increases for teachers and school leaders in both England and Wales.
  • Teachers are an investment, not a cost Teachers need a pay rise. The public sector pay policy of the past five years has depressed teachers' real earnings to the extent that recruitment and retention are being seriously harmed. We are asking the STRB to recommend a fair pay award for teachers for the highly skilled, important jobs that they do. A significant pay increase is needed for teachers at all stages of their careers so we can ensure there are enough teachers for the number of pupils. 

Comments from the unions’ leaders:

Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, said:

“The erosion of teachers’ pay is causing real problems in attracting graduates into the profession and in retaining experienced teachers. The recruitment and retention crisis will intensify if teaching salaries fail to keep up with other professions. There is an increasing need for teachers yet, while student numbers are rising, schools are not able to recruit enough teachers even to replace those who are choosing to leave the profession because of the pressures of workload and poor career and salary prospects.”


Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said:

“Four more years of pay austerity is a false economy. We must be able to attract and retain the high-quality teachers and leaders we need to give young people a great education. Investing in the future of our young people and therefore our nation is vitally important.” 

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: 

“If teachers’ salaries continue to fall in real terms the Government stands no chance of providing the extra 160,000 additional teachers needed over the next three years to cope with the projected rise in pupil numbers. The numbers applying for initial teacher training are rapidly declining and more teachers left the profession last year than in any previous year, so unless teachers get a significant pay rise schools will have to start increasing class sizes or shutting courses and cutting the subject options available to pupils.” 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said:

“The joint statement to the STRB from our combined unions is compelling in its unity and presents an undeniably strong case for our shared views. Together we voice the valuable expertise of the entire teaching profession, an authority that the government must listen to. There is clear cause for concern over a lack of funding for schools and teachers, leading to a national crisis in both quality and quantity of teachers, jeopardising teaching standards.”  

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said:

“No amount of misleading advertising which claims that great teachers can earn £65k can cover up the basic pay problems. The fact that headline teacher pay rises are pegged at 1% and that teacher pay lags behind other graduate professions is a major factor in the on-going teacher shortage crisis. Nicky Morgan needs to address this growing pay-gap urgently. Schools need to be properly funded to be able to afford the National Insurance and teacher pension contributions they now have to pay out for, yet have no resources with which to do so. Teachers are already leaving in droves and new graduates looking elsewhere for a career. It is quite clear that unless teachers’ salaries reflect the work they do this is a situation that will only get worse, with disastrous consequences for education and pupils.”  

Elaine Edwards, UCAC's general secretary, said:

“The Government must invest more in education funding and fund fully a pay rise for teachers. Teachers need a proper pay rise - more than the 1% average suggested by the Government.   Pay freezes and below inflation increases have contributed to a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.  The Government needs to reconsider its pay policies for the sake our children and young people and the education system as a whole.”

Further information

Joint Union Statement, January 2016 (and Voice's Written Submission to the STRB, November 2015)


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