Schools in England Face Strike Action Over Retention

With rising inflation rates and no significant pay increase, schools in England are facing an acute crisis over retention and recruitment. The country’s biggest teaching union has warned of strike action this autumn unless an “inflation plus” deal is reached.

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New research shows that every 1% increase in pay gives a 2% boost to graduate recruitment in high-demand disciplines such as science, maths and technology. Trainee recruitment is down by 25,000 compared with last year, and experienced teachers are leaving the profession at the fastest rate for over a decade.

 

Schools will struggle to attract and retain the best teachers without a significant pay increase. This could have a serious impact on the quality of education in England. The National Education Union calls for an inflation-plus pay increase for all teachers and is prepared to take industrial action if necessary.

The Nation Union of Teachers went on strike in 2016 over pay and conditions, and the new National Education Union is prepared to do the same if their demands are not met.

 

The government has responded that new teachers will receive above-inflation increases in their starting salaries over the next two years. However, this does little to address the concerns of experienced teachers leaving the profession in droves.

 

Something needs to be done to improve the retention and recruitment of teachers in England. The National Education Union’s demands for a pay increase seem reasonable, and strike action may be the only way to get the government to listen.

 

Nadhim Zahawi, education secretary, responded by saying that new teachers will receive above-inflation increases to their starting salaries over the next two years and hinted that strikes would “risk undoing” progress made by pupils recovering from the pandemic and school closures.

 

The last national teachers’ strike was in 2016 by the NEU’s predecessor, the National Union of Teachers. Suppose the government does not meet the NEU’s demands. In that case, we could see the largest joint industrial action since 2011, when the NUT and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the NASUWT and the National Association of Head Teachers all struck over pensions.

 

The teaching and school leaders’ unions argue that the government’s submission to the independent School Teachers Review Body (STRB) last year is obsolete after the sudden leap in the rate of inflation, with the consumer prices index last month reaching 9.1%, the highest for more than four years.

 

The NEU calls for an inflation-plus pay increase for all teachers and is prepared to take industrial action if necessary. With experienced teachers leaving the profession in droves, this could have a serious impact on the quality of education in England. The government needs to take action to improve the retention and recruitment of teachers, or we will see the education system suffer as a result.

 

In Zahawi’s letter, she wrote: “I recognise the pressures that many in the education workforce are under, which is why we have proposed a significant pay uplift for all teachers.

“As you will be aware, the independent STRB is currently considering our submission and will report later this year. We await their recommendations before deciding next year’s pay awards.”

The bottom line is that the government needs to act now to improve the retention and recruitment of teachers in England. The National Education Union’s demands for a pay increase seem reasonable, and strike action may be the only way to get the government to listen. With experienced teachers leaving the profession in droves, this could have a serious impact on the quality of education in England. The government needs to take action to improve the retention and recruitment of teachers, or we will see the education system suffer as a result.

In response to the NEU’s letter, a Department for Education spokesperson said:

“We are committed to ensuring our teachers are rewarded for their hard work and have already announced above-inflation increases to starting salaries over the next two years. We have also protected the value of experienced teachers’ pay by increasing it in line with inflation this year.

 

“The unions’ strike threat risks undoing the progress made by pupils recovering from the pandemic and school closures. We urge them to continue working constructively with us so we can deliver on our shared priority of ensuring every child receives a world-class education.”

 

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