With an election on the horizon, and the National Union of Teacher’s Annual Conference this week – budget freezes, the future of education and pay have been hotly discussed topics this week.
The UK’s two main political parties are both claiming in their election pledges that they are looking to protect the school budgets, yet both seem to have their own agendas. The Conservative proposition fails to take into consideration the effects that a raise in inflation could have and Labour while claiming it will protect schools from this, but have not taken into account the rise in pupil numbers expected over the coming few years. Furthermore, both parties have failed to take into account the effect that the rise in national insurance payments and pension contributions will have on schools who will have to meet the shortfall out of their own budgets.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies has recently estimated that even with these governmental pledges, british schools are still going to face a 12% shortfall in their budgets over the next five years. This has led the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to the conclusion that these effects will result in job losses across Britain and hit teachers’ pay, pensions and workload as well as damaging pupils’ education. Early next year it has been predicted by the union that not only teachers and support staff will be facing cuts, but courses and programmes as well. Ian Murch, an executive member of NUT, forecasts that ‘if funding per pupil remains fixed a total of one in ten teachers and one in ten support staff would need to be cut.’
So what is being done about this? Christine Blower of the NUT has asked this and stated that ‘if no progress is made in talks with the new government on the issues of funding then the union should to take strike action’ potentially resulting in school closures across Britain. This was unanimously backed by NUT delegates to warn of strike action if the incoming government fail to agree to restore the cash over a fixed timetable. The motion will try and defend the NUT members’ rights to better pay, workload, pay progression and look to put a stop to performance pay. This has angered some parties who are unhappy about the plan to strike ‘before a single vote has been cast in the general election’.
Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristan Hunt when speaking at the NASUWT teachers conference said ‘the cold truth is that there is no magic wand we can wave to take away the double squeeze of public finance and demographic pressures’, however as true as this may be no party seems to be addressing the issues of workload or performance related pay. The Independent quoted Betty Joseph of the executive who pointed out that ‘Doctors aren’t paid by the amount of patients they cure’ so why should teachers be under such pay grades?!
Are you backing the NUT’s idea to strike? Which government party do you think has teachers and schools in their best interest? Have your say…