Cash-strapped Norfolk schools call on government to fully fund teachers’ pay rises

Norfolk schools are calling on the government to provide more funding for teachers' pay rises. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Norfolk schools are calling on the government to provide more funding for teachers' pay rises. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Schools in Norfolk have clubbed together to call for more funding to help cover pay rises for teachers.

The government is asking schools to fund the first 1pc of pay increases recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which will vary from 1.5pc up to 3.5pc depending on teachers’ pay ranges.

But the National Education Union (NEU) says this will put undue pressure on school budgets – especially in counties like Norfolk, which the union claims has some of the poorest-funded schools in England.

Following the government’s decision, Norwich schools which are predicted to suffer significant budget cuts in the next two years have written a letter to the city’s MPs calling for the government to fully fund the pay rises.

Its signatories, including Angel Road Infant and Junior Schools, Bignold Primary School and Diversa Multi Academy Trust, are predicted to lose a further £160 to £320 per pupil by 2020 – a total of between £50,000 and £130,000.

Clare Jones, of the Diversa Multi Academy Trust. Picture: SubmittedClare Jones, of the Diversa Multi Academy Trust. Picture: Submitted

The NEU is working with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in the campaign.

Clare Jones, chief executive of Diversa Multi Academy Trust, said: “The schools within our trust stand to lose in excess of £240,000 each year if the government does not urgently address the school funding crisis. This will be worsened by the government’s decision not to fully fund the most recent pay award.

“We will try to avoid losing any staff in any of our schools, however the reality is that the quality and range of our provision will be severely impacted especially for our most vulnerable pupils if this reduction in income is not rapidly addressed by central government.”

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: “It is shocking that the government have awarded, what I consider a well-deserved, pay rise without releasing the funding to allow schools to pay it without taking more money away from our children’s education.”

After the STRB recommended the pay rises, the Department for Education (DfE) said they would be funded by government with a new £508m teachers’ pay grant – worth £187m in 2018/19 and £321m in 2019/20 from the existing DfE budget – paid to all schools on top of their core budgets.

In cash terms, the DfE said teachers’ salaries could increase by between £1,184 and £1,366.

Here is the letter, addressed to Norwich MPs Clive Lewis and Chloe Smith and signed by Diversa Trust chief executive Clare Jones, about the funding arrangements for teachers’ pay rises:

“Dear Mr Lewis/Ms Smith,

I am writing to you as the CEO of Diversa MAT which Bignold Primary School is part of and is in your constituency.

As you know, the annual pay rise for teachers is set by the School Teacher Review Body (STRB), which makes a recommendation to the secretary of state. Since the STRB’s first report in 1992, the government has always implemented its recommendations in full.

Earlier this year, the STRB advised that all teachers should receive a pay rise of 3.5%, to address serious concerns over the recruitment and retention of teachers. However, Damian Hinds has ignored this and chosen to apply that 3.5pc only to teachers on the Main Spine, awarding 2pc to teachers on the Upper Spine and 1.5pc to those on the Leadership Spine. This means that approximately 60pc of teachers will not receive the 3.5pc recommended by the STRB.

Damian Hinds has also not fully funded the pay rise, expecting schools to find the first 1pc from already over-stretched budgets. And he has not funded the inadequate support staff pay rise, meaning more funding pressures are being put on our schools.

We say this is unfair. It’s unfair:

• to ignore the expertise of the STRB

• to ignore the hard work and commitment of long-serving teachers

• to cut the future salary expectations of younger teachers

• to pass the pressure of funding the pay rises onto already over-stretched school budgets

• to put children’s education at risk because of funding cuts

We are asking you to write to Damian Hinds and demand that he fully fund and fully implement the STRB recommendation, as a first step towards putting right the school funding crisis and the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. Please let us know if you can do this.

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss this further.”

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