Camden schools condemn ‘cynical’ pay rise for teachers

Real Terms Cut: Camden schools slam teacher pay rise as ‘cynical’.

Teachers in Camden have slammed a planned pay rise as a “cynical” means of taking funding out of the school system.

At an 18 September meeting of the Camden schools’ forum, headteachers and governors were briefed on the planned pay award of up to 3.5 per cent, which begins this month.

Schools had been told to budget for a one per cent rise under the previous public sector pay cap, and will receive £508 million in the period to 2020 to cover the added 2.5 per cent rise.

However, this will not be new money from the Treasury, and will instead be plucked from elsewhere in the education budget.

Gospel Oak Primary School headteacher and chair of the forum John Hayes said: “This is just another way of taking money out of the system, so that we will have less.

“The pressures on schools to do anything other than make redundancies to give a very well-deserved and very overdue pay award is just going to be shocking.

“I think what I find so cynical about it is that the calculation isn’t even an attempt to match the pay award to actual salaries, but to numbers of children.

“It’s not based on the number of teachers you actually have to pay, it’s based on the number of children in the school.

“If you are not full, based per head of child, schools that are not at capacity are also going to find that they will struggle.”

It is not yet known where the savings will come from, but officers briefing the forum advised that “it is widely thought that this will be diverted from the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund (TLIF) and the strategic School Improvement Fund (SIF).”

Schools make bids to both funds in order to finance improvements.

The TLIF supports high-quality professional development for teachers in schools which face challenges, whilst the SIF targets resources at  schools most in need of an improvement in performance.

Financial advisor Victor Saunders also gave a general briefing to the forum on the pressures faced by Camden’s schools against a background of austerity.

Saunders opened by underlining that the £1.3 billion of extra cash for schools announced in July 2017 by the then Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening would in fact be coming from elsewhere in the education budget.

Saunders said: “Since 2010/11, Camden schools have suffered a 16 per cent real terms cut in their spending power. In addition to that, the National Audit Office (NAO) has been saying that there could be another eight per cent reduction between 2017 and 2020.

“That’s, in real terms, what you can’t buy anymore. That’s the real-term effect.

“So it does look like the budget’s going up, but it’s not going up in line with real-terms inflation. Don’t think it’s all roses, because there’s real-terms cuts going on there.”

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