Spurred on by the government’s recent NHS proposed pay settlement of 6.5%, the National Union of Teachers is calling for a 5% teacher pay rise.
They are also urging the possibility of strike action among teachers.
The union, Britain’s largest, is considering a pay claim motion at its annual conference along with other school unions and they state that any pay rise should be funded not from current school budgets but by the government.
The NUT’s general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said the union welcomes the government apparently ending its pay policies over its austerity measures.
However, he also warned that the teaching system in England is sliding from a ‘crisis into catastrophe’ as teachers want to end long hours when comparing their profession with others who earn more.
Average hourly teacher pay has fallen by 15%
The call comes after the National Foundation for Educational Research revealed this week that the average hourly teacher pay has fallen by 15% between 2009 and 2016.
Mr Courtney said: “There is optimism that the government is starting to move and we think teachers around the country see their salaries they see it’s not as competitive as other graduate salaries.”
He added: “Teachers are also looking at working hours and, crucially, making the calculation of the hourly rate they get. When young teachers report 60 hour working weeks and calculate the hourly rate they think their pay is not good enough.
“There’s already a crisis in teacher retention and recruitment and if we don’t act this will become a catastrophe.”
The union is soon to merge to become the National Education Union and along with other teaching unions are urging the pay settlement from the government’s pay advisers, the School Teachers Review Body (STRB).
Potential issues of teacher staff shortages
Mr Courtney welcomed last year’s call from the STRB over the potential issues of teacher staff shortages which would create a substantial risk to the country’s education system.
He said the words were “astonishing” and hoped the body would really want to support a claim for a 5% pay rise.
The pay claim will be discussed at the union’s conference and for this to be fully funded by the government with the union saying it will also prepare the groundwork for conducting industrial action if not.
The motion itself will call for a 5% initial pay rise to help restore the reduction in living standards that all school staff have been suffering.
The conference itself will be the last by the NUT before its merger with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers to become the National Education Union with the ATL also holding its final conference in the weeks afterwards.
Criticism of multi-academy trusts that are underperforming
NUT conference organisers say that delegates will also hear criticism of multi-academy trusts that are underperforming and chief executives who enjoy high pay.
There will also be a discussion over a growing problem of mental health among pupils partly down to the stress of exams with the union calling for primary school tests to be boycotted in England.