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2023 Pay deal

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The context

Last September, teachers received on average a 5% pay award for the 2022/23 academic year. That represented a further below-inflation pay award and the largest real-terms pay cut to teachers’ pay since 1977.

In order for schools to be able to recruit the teachers and headteachers they need, the Government must ensure that schools are fully funded and reward teachers properly whilst also addressing teachers’ day-to-day concerns about excessive workload and working time.

The NASUWT has been calling on the Government for a fully funded programme of real pay restoration for all teachers, through our Better Deal for Teachers campaign, which has included our engagement in national negotiations to take forward our ongoing dispute with the Government.

The general secretaries of all four education unions have announced that they intend to co-ordinate their unions’ industrial action moving forward.

What happened in the national negotiations on teachers’ pay?

On 16 March, preliminary talks were held with Government representatives, followed by a week-long programme of intensive talks between 17 and 23 March, where the Government was represented by the Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan MP and the Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP.

In the negotiations with the Government, we set out the concerns of members about the deepening cost-of-living crisis, the impact of 13 years of real -terms pay erosion and the problem of excessive workload and working hours which are driving teachers out of the profession.

Throughout the talks, we were also clear that the NASUWT expected to see:

  • more money on the table to fund teachers’ pay;

  • more money into teachers’ pockets with immediate pay increases for teachers this year;

  • improvements to the Government’s plans for teachers’ pay from September 2023, including a commitment to a multi-year programme of pay restoration;

  • ending pay discrimination by scrapping the system of performance-elated pay;

  • action to address workload pressures and to limit teachers’ working hours;

  • strengthening teachers’ rights at work;

  • schools and sixth-form colleges to be fully funded.

Throughout the talks, we have put members’ concerns front and centre in the negotiations with the Government.

How did the Government respond to us?

Following months in which the Government refused to engage in talks on pay for the 2022/23 academic year, our continued lobbying secured a commitment from the Government to enter into discussions on teachers’ pay.

The Government’s starting point in the talks was a 3.5% award for September 2023.

At an early stage in the negotiations, the Government moved to consider making a non-consolidated (single year) payment to teachers and school leaders. However, the Government was not willing to uprate teachers’ pay scales for the 2022/23 year. Any payment (non-consolidated) made to teachers would, we were told, be for one year only.

The Government did agree with our representations to look at non-pay conditions, given the depth of concerns about the impact of excessive teacher workload. Indeed, during the course of the negotiations, the NFER published its latest research showing that teachers work on average 4.5 hours per week more than similar graduates.

During the negotiations, we put a number of demands to the Government on non-pay matters, including:

  • removal of performance-related pay;

  • reintroduction of statutory pay scales ;

  • ensuring automatic pay progression from main to upper pay scale;

  • restoration of pay portability rights;

  • review of pensions contributions tiering;

  • return to the STPCD of the list of 21 tasks which do not call for the exercise of a teachers’ professional skills and judgement and the introduction of a similar list to protect the workloads of middle and senior leaders;

  • workload impact assessments to be required at school level and nationally, with trade union consultation;

  • strengthening the provisions on directed time and removal of the open-ended working time clauses in the teacher’s contract (STPCD - paragraphs 51.7 and 51.4);

  • reduction of working time requirements including a 35-hour working time limit;

  • strengthening statutory provision and guidance on teachers’ working time rights, including lunchbreaks, weekend/bank holiday working, work/life balance, PPA, entitlements to time for leadership and management;

  • restoration of statutory guidance on PPA, cover, leadership and management time, and dedicated headship time;

  • improved contractual rights for teachers undertaking leadership and management roles;

  • requirement for schools to have a flexible working policy agreed with unions;

  • a national joint ministerial and trade union forum to tackle workload and working time;

  • a review into the unintended impact of the inspection system on workload and wellbeing of teachers and leaders and suspension of single-word graded inspection reports;

  • a cross-government working party to improve capacity of wider children’s services;

  • restoration of class size limits;

  • statutory requirement and deadline for implementation of DfE workload reports and Education Staff Wellbeing Charter;

  • pilot teacher sabbatical scheme;

  • requirement on regional directors, trust leaders, NLEs and teaching schools to demonstrate best practice on workload reduction;

  • review the STRB process timing, remit setting and negotiation.

We asked the Government to enter into discussions on all these issues and we are continuing to make the case on all these matters to secure a Better Deal on teachers’ working conditions.

However, the Government has chosen to respond only to a small number of the working conditions issues raised by unions.

What has the Government offered on pay?

After a week of intensive negotiations, the Government has written to the NASUWT, ASCL, NAHT and NEU with an offer to put to our members.

A copy of the Government’s letter can be accessed on the right/below.

The Government’s final offer on pay is as follows:

  • a £1,000 pro rata (per FTE) non-consolidated payment to all teachers and leaders for 2022/23. The Government says that this is equivalent to an additional 2.4% on top of the 5.4% average pay award set by the STRB in 2022/23;

  • 4.5% (average) consolidated pay award for 2023/24. The Government says that this is equivalent to a pay rise of at least £1,880 (4.3%) for experienced (U3+) teachers and leaders, and £2,000 (7.1%) for new teachers (excluding London);

  • the removal of the statutory requirement for schools to use performance-related pay, removing bureaucracy and allowing those schools that wish to to offer automatic pay progression to their teachers.

The NASUWT has demanded a pay award for teachers for 2022/23 of 12% and for 2023/24 a 10% award.

The Government claims that the total package being offered on pay for 2022/23 and 2023/24 will be worth 19.9% for M1 teachers over two years, and 11.7% for U3 teachers over two years.

During the negotiations with the Government, the four unions tabled a final proposal for a £1,000 non-consolidated payment for 2022/23 and a 5.75% consolidated award for 2023/24, together with non-pay improvements.

What has the Government offered on non-pay?

The Government’s final offer on non-pay matters includes a series of non-pay measures to support teachers and leaders in schools, including a commitment to reduce average teacher working time by five hours a week. Other non-pay measures proposed by the Government include: 

  • requiring Ofsted to provide greater clarity on when schools should expect their next inspection;

  • requiring Ofsted to review the process by which schools make complaints regarding inspections; 

  • reinserting into the STPCD a revised list of 21 tasks which do not call for the expertise of teachers’ or leaders’ professional judgement;

  • creating a workload taskforce with a target to reduce by five hours the average working hours for both teachers and leaders from a baseline of the Working Lives of Teachers Study 2022 and to report on progress annually. The Taskforce will include equal government-nominated and trade union membership and make recommendations to the Secretary of State, ministers and to trade union General Secretaries;

  • reinforcing the measures in the STPCD to ensure adherence to the principle of working time rights, for example on lunchtime and breaks, PPA time and leadership time;

  • aligning the STRB process with the school budget cycle to make it easier for schools to plan;

  • reviewing the complaints procedure for parents;

  • ending the requirement to use performance-related pay (PRP), including by amending the STPCD to remove the statutory requirement for PRP in pay decisions, retaining advisory spine points to support schools’ pay decisions, along with ensuring a robust, supportive and developmental appraisal process for teachers.

The Government has chosen to not address many of the working conditions issues raised by the NASUWT and other unions, including on the restoration of statutory pay scales, the right to automatic pay progression and pay portability or the introduction of a contractual limit on teachers’ working time.

Will the pay award be fully funded?

In essence, the Government is saying that there is already sufficient money in school budgets to fund the lion’s share of their proposed pay offer. In addition, the Government is promising that schools will receive additional funding to cover the £1,000 non-consolidated payment for 2022/23 and the additional 0.5% consolidated pay increase for 2023/24.

The Government claims that schools’ spending needs are being met by the additional £2 billion previously announced in the Chancellor’s 2022 Autumn Statement. The Government says that it has taken account of local government pay awards and energy costs in its calculation of the affordability of the proposed pay award.

However, there is widespread concern that funding for schools has fallen in real terms, together with significant losses of funding for wider children’s services which are also impacting on schools.

In respect of sixth-form colleges, the Government has promised to respond to the NASUWT following our demands for increased funding for the sector. By the end of the talks, no response had been received from the Government. The NASUWT is continuing to press the Government on behalf of sixth-form college members. 

What has been the response from the NASUWT and other unions?

General Secretaries of all four unions involved in the negotiations agreed to take the Government’s final offer back to our respective National Executives for consideration. The NASUWT National Executive met to discuss the final offer on 25 March and agreed to seek the views of members.

What happens next?

The Government has said that they want unions to put the offer to our members. The Government has also said that if the offer is not accepted, they will revert to the STRB process for the 2023/24 academic year.

The Government expects the STRB to “recommend a 2023/24 pay offer only, on the basis of evidence submitted by relevant parties as well as average earnings and inflation forecasts.”

The implication of not agreeing the pay offer could be that the £1,000 non-consolidated payment for 2022/23 and the non-pay proposals will be withdrawn by the Government.

The Government’s submission to the STRB has already been published and it recommends a 3.5% average award for teachers and leaders from September 2023.

The Government claims that, according to the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), inflation is forecast to be 1.4% for the academic year 2023/24. The NASUWT has been clear that we do not accept the Government’s use of the OBR academic year forecast for determining teachers’ pay for September 2023. Furthermore, inflation is currently at 10.4% and is expected to remain higher than the proposed pay award by September.

During the negotiations, the NASUWT and other unions have made it clear to the Government that should inflation exceed the Government’s inflation forecasts, we will reserve the right to bring further claims on pay back to the Government.

Is the NASUWT recommending acceptance or rejection of the pay offer?

The NASUWT National Executive has discussed the Government’s pay offer and is now seeking the views of members.

We recognise that you will have their own views about what is on offer and it is important that we hear directly from you.

The NASUWT is not recommending acceptance of the Government’s offer. The offer falls short of what the Union has demanded from the Government both for pay restoration and on non-pay improvements. Nevertheless, we believe that it is right to hear what you think about the offer as it stands.

We trust our members to make the right decision. Vote now!

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