Nicky Morgan has just written to the School Teachers’ Review Body asking them “whether you consider that there are any additional flexibilities that could be introduced to support schools, such as allowing teachers to move down from the upper pay range to the main pay range”.
In short, already too many teachers are being denied pay rises through appraisal and performance-pay. Now they want to start allowing schools to bully teachers back down the pay-scale too. Against threats of additional workload and/or capability procedures, and with school budgets under pressure, teachers will be ‘asked’ to accept massive pay-cuts – and, unless we put up a fight, every teacher will be held to ransom. It will be like a game of 'snakes and ladders' with teachers' pay dependent on the next throw of the 'performance' dice.
There are other new threats in the letter to the STRB too, like the “possibility of non-consolidated payments” and “what adjustments should be made to the salary and allowance ranges … to promote recruitment and retention within an average pay award of 1%”. What recruitment and retention can be encouraged with an overall budget of just 1% - with anyone gaining more being at others’ expense!?
At the Salaries Committee, I helped to draft a series of recommendations to this afternoon’s National Executive and the following wording was agreed unanimously:
Recognising the threat of fragmentation of teachers' pay and the further attacks included in the STRB remit letter, the NUT should;
- issue further NUT advice to members, reps and local officers on NUT policy on adoption of pay scales for 2015-2016;
- issue specific advice to leadership members encouraging them to adopt pay scales in accordance with NUT policies;
- issue specific advice to local officers on the importance of pursuing collective disputes with Local Authorities which do not issue advice in accordance with NUT policies;
- issue further NUT advice to members, reps and local officers on pay progression highlighting key points in the NUT pay toolkit;
- encourage members, reps and local officers to challenge unacceptable policies and pay decisions both individually and collectively;
- highlight to members the threats in Nicky Morgan's remit letter to the STRB, making clear that the NUT will consider action up to and including strike action to oppose cuts to teachers' pay; and
- mount a specific campaign linking pay to growing teacher shortages as well as general recruitment and retention issues.
Baseline assessment: One National Executive member reported that a DfE visitor to his class had questioned why he was teaching children before the baseline assessment took place because it could make the results inaccurate! So is collecting data more important than teaching and learning? Of course, the added danger is what the data becomes used for - setting targets for 'pupil progress' and performance-pay that will be used to penalise teachers and children alike.
Trade Union Bill: a number of contributions were made about needing to highlight to teachers how the Bill would affect teachers' ability to take action - through ballot thresholds, threats to picket organisers, the use of agency staff to break strikes and more. There is a rally and meeting on the Bill in Parliament on October 13 as well as a Lobby of Supply Agencies taking place on October 28.
Jeremy Corbyn: This was the first Executive meeting since Jeremy's victory and Christine Blower spoke of how we might generate 'mutual support'. I suggested that the NUT should invite Jeremy to speak to an Executive meeting to show our support for the direction he was trying to take Labour, while also making clear the Union's education policies.