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Teaching unions blast Tories' below-inflation pay offer

TORY plans to offer overworked and underpaid teachers a below-inflation pay rise are unacceptable, education unions said today.

The warning came after the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi is preparing to propose a wage increase of just 5 per cent for most teachers — less than half the current retail price index inflation rate of 11.7 per cent.

Early career teachers are allegedly set to receive a 9 per cent rise for their first five years in the classroom as part of efforts to raise starting salaries to £30,000, but the deal would still amount to a significant real-terms pay cut.

The possible offers represent an improvement on the 2 to 3 per cent boost recommended via the Department for Education’s submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body earlier this year.

But unions argued the total for new teachers would not get starting salaries up to the proposed minimum, while the amount for more experienced staff, who have suffered a decade of austerity pay, is “too low.”

Both the National Education Union (NEU), which has called for “inflation-plus” pay rises, and NASUWT have threatened autumn strike ballots if ministers fail to deliver. 

NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted said that she would await the government’s formal response to the pay review body’s impending report, due at the end of the month, but warned that the alleged plans are “unacceptable.”

“Teacher pay has fallen by a fifth in real terms since 2010,” she highlighted.

“Combine this with the high workload — and amongst the highest unpaid working hours — and it is no wonder there is a major problem with recruitment and retention.

“Add to this schools struggling to make ends meet through periods of underfunding, additional Covid security, and now the cost-of-living crisis.”

The reported offers “do not come close” to what is needed, said NASUWT head Patrick Roach, who accused Whitehall of refusing to “engage in dialogue directly with the profession.”

He added: “A typical classroom teacher is today £40,000 worse off than they would have been had their pay kept pace with inflation over the last decade.

“Talk of a pay award of 5 per cent for the vast majority of teachers doesn’t come close to what is needed.”

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