Pay rises for teachers should be fully funded by the Government rather than putting extra financial pressure on schools, according to Eastbourne’s MP.
After years of austerity and a one per cent cap, the school teachers’ review body, which advises ministers on pay, recommended an across the board 3.5 per cent pay rise for teaching staff to boost recruitment and retention.
However many staff will receive less than the current inflation rate of 2.4 per cent because the Government did not accept the recommendations in full, which stated that school leaders as well as teachers should receive the 3.5 per cent increase.
At a time when budgets are under extreme pressure, individual schools will have to find the first one per cent of any pay rises.
Stephen Lloyd, Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne, described how since schools already have ‘grossly over-stretched budgets there will inevitably be more cuts to teaching staff’.
He added: “So, fewer teachers, bigger classes and putting even more pressure on those already overwhelmed by excessive workload, disappearing teaching assistants all resulting in special needs and vulnerable children being short-changed.
“Our schools are already seeing a narrowing of curriculum choices, buildings deteriorating, TAs [teaching assistants] - rather than teachers – often covering classes, parents being asked to pay for basics and ever more highly trained and dedicated staff leaving the profession.
“A senior local headteacher told me only a few days ago that: ‘Yes, the pay rises sound all well and good but they are not fully funded.
“For my school to cope financially and not go into deficit, I have had to do the following things:
- Not replace teaching staff as they are leaving - cutting approximately seven full time teachers in the last two years,
- Become more reliant on our ‘friends’ organisation to help with school improvements,
- Cut options so subjects like dance, RE/ethics and sociology cannot be run,
- Increase class numbers,
- Sharing staff with other schools to bring in income’.”
Mr Lloyd added: “Some weeks ago, I called for the Government to fully fund any teacher pay rise so that schools, after years of reducing budgets, would be able to avoid making further cuts that are bound to impact on the quality of education schools provide.
“I also co-sponsored an Early Day Motion to this effect that got cross-party support but still the government has failed to listen and protect our schools.
“Our children across Eastbourne and Willingdon are paying the price of this government’s misplaced priorities, such as finding an additional £200m to increase grammar schools across the country. This is not only wrong, it is simply unfair for the majority of our children.”