Despite the promises that the government made about funding in the summer, we have already seen the crisis in schools deepen this year. In September, the RAAC crisis underlined the consequences of long term lack of funding. In October of this year, the DfE announced a ‘revision’ of the national funding formula that saw a further cut to school budgets. Again, this directly breaks promises made by the Government to end the pay dispute.
What can we do now?
While the campaign for pay and funding for this academic year (23/24) was settled in the summer with the biggest ever single increase in the history of the STRB, the 6.5% still represented a pay cut. As such, the deal only slightly alleviated the recruitment and retention crisis. If we are going to ensure funding for schools and decent pay for educators, we have to aim for pay restoration.
What is pay restoration?
Pay restoration is a process that will restore pay in real terms to what it was worth in 2010. We believe this may be a multi-year process, involving a series of disputes over pay that seek inflation plus offers from the government. Pay restoration is crucial, however, if we are to keep teachers in the workplace.
What about support staff?
Support staff, through their ballot in summer and their action alongside teachers in the strikes, also won a pay rise this year. Again, this was still a pay cut. We believe that the professionalism and dedication of support staff should be recognised. We need to work to ensure support staff are in a position to take action alongside teachers this year to win on both pay and funding.
Funding is the crucial issue
While decent pay for teachers and support staff is a crucial way to fix the recruitment and retention crisis, it is not the only issue. Workload pressures also need to be addressed - funding is key to this. Only with increased funding can workload be tackled as class sizes and allocations can be reduced for teachers, while extra support staff can be recruited to support key school functions. Any campaign has to have funding as a central demand as this is what unites us with parents and pupils.
Key tasks for November
The NEU Executive is meeting in early December. The Executive already failed to take any action in October after the funding cuts announcement. We need to ensure that the December Executive launches a ballot for the 24/25 pay round. This is important if we are to have any influence over the STRB process this year or raise the issues in the Local Government negotiations for support staff. We need, therefore, as many workplace meetings as possible to show the Executive that (i) members understand the strategy over pay and funding, and (ii) that members are committed to taking action to win this in schools.
Organise a workplace meeting. Discuss the issues with members and win the idea of fully-funded pay restoration.
Send a report to your Executive member before December’s Executive meeting. Fill out the Google form to let us know how your meeting went.
The key demands we think unite the biggest numbers of people in defence of our schools are:
Announce now a ballot over 24/25 pay with a timetable that will see us strike this year.
The figure should be fully funded pay restoration to 2010 levels for both teachers and support staff.
That, in order to be accepted, any pay rise must be fully funded on an ongoing basis.