National Employers’ Organisation for School Teachers response

Response to the consultation on the Government’s response to the School Teachers’ Review Body’s 30th Report recommendations and the draft 2020 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document - September 2020


Introduction

1. The National Employers’ Organisation for School Teachers (NEOST) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the consultation on the Government’s response to the School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB) 30th Report recommendations and the draft 2020 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).

Executive summary

2. Our headline responses to the consultation are as follows, that NEOST:

  • Welcomes the decision to fully implement the STRB recommendations;
  • Is disappointed that the pay award and full implementation costs of transitioning to the advisory pay points is not being fully funded for all local authorities and schools from September 2020 with new money;
  • Asks for adequate funding to enable local authorities and schools to implement the teachers’ pay award where appropriate for Centrally Employed Teachers;
  • Does not support the proposed changes to paragraph 26 ‘Additional Payments’ as this will reduce the pay freedoms for schools whilst also introducing unnecessary bureaucracy;
  • Supports the STRB’s evidence-based approach in that they would consider the size of any uplift ‘for 2021/22 and 2022/23 in the light of the evidence available at that time and
  • Seeks an effective consultation process next year that avoids the summer holidays and respects the needs of employers to budget and plan for a pay award due in law by the 1 September.

Background

3. NEOST is a statutory consultee to the STRB process. It draws membership from the Local Government Association, the National Society (Church of England and Church in Wales) for the promotion of Education, the Catholic Education Service and the Confederation of School Trusts. The LGA provides the secretariat to NEOST.

4. The role of NEOST includes acting as the single statutory employer representative body when submitting evidence to the STRB.  NEOST also represents the employer side for the national collective agreement on conditions outside of the STPCD, commonly known as the Burgundy Book.  This agreement continues to apply in Wales and therefore the Welsh Local Government Association remain members of NEOST.

5. As the role of the local authority in relation to school employment matters is easily misunderstood, it seems appropriate at this stage to provide some context.  School pay decisions are delegated to individual schools in regulations under the Education Act 2002. However, local authorities are the employers of teachers in community and voluntary controlled schools. This affords them certain advisory rights in relation to school employment decisions and creates liabilities under general employment law. For example, under the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme and generally the Local Government Pension Scheme, the local authority is deemed the employer in all maintained schools.

6. The LGA undertook an online survey in order to inform this response (see appendix 1).  All 151 local education authorities were invited to complete the consultation which achieved a response rate of over 40%. Through the LGA’s wider role and network of relationships with Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), we have also received additional feedback on the core issues relevant to teachers’ pay for 2020, which appear to be broadly in-line with the overall views of local authorities. (The LGA runs a subscriber service called Employer Link which includes at least 180 MATs covering 2081 academies).

Proposed pay award

7. NEOST welcomes the Government’s decision to fully implement the STRB recommendations. Although we recognise that pay is only one factor in improving the situation, we agree with the STRB that it is necessary to apply an above inflation increase in order to improve the recruitment and retention of teachers including those in leadership posts but we are disappointed that this decision did not come with a commitment from central government to fully fund the pay increase including any transition costs of moving to the STPCD advisory pay points.

8. In response to the NEOST survey 89% of stakeholders supported the proposed higher starting salary for teachers, indicating it was likely to have a positive impact on recruitment and retention. However, almost all responses also continued to raise serious concerns around affordability.

9. The reasons given by some of the 11 per cent responses, from stakeholders who did not support the higher (5.5 per cent) uplift, included the potential for this to leave more experienced teachers and leaders feeling less valued, reducing their morale and motivation and ultimately having a negative impact on the recruitment and retention of more experienced teachers and leaders. These members of the school community have been essential in managing the impact of Covid-19. 

10. Similar concerns are found in the STRB 30th report which questioned whether the Department’s proposal for 2020/21 struck the right balance between increases in pay for early career teachers and increases for experienced teachers and school leaders. In the light of their concerns about ‘the transitional risks relating to the motivation, morale and retention of experienced teachers’ they recommended that ‘there should be a relatively smaller uplift to the minimum of the Main Pay Range (MPR) and relatively larger increases to the other statutory points in the pay framework than the Department has proposed.’ NEOST has a lot of sympathy for this position in these difficult times.

11. NEOST welcomes the STRB’s evidence-based approach concerning the Government’s commitment to increasing teachers starting salary to £30k by 2022, commenting that they would consider the size of any uplift ‘for 2021/22 and 2022/23 in the light of the evidence available at that time.’

12. NEOST agrees with the STRB’s recommendation that ‘the same percentage uplifts should be applied to the Inner London, Outer London and London fringe pay bands as to the rest of England pay band’ as a result of taking account of the acute challenges in London.’

Advisory pay points

13. The re-introduction of national pay points is something that our stakeholders and NEOST has been asking for over many years. We welcome their re-introduction, albeit in an advisory capacity. However, it is important to note that local authorities and schools will be under incredible pressures from the teaching unions and teaching staff to implement the advisory pay points in full for all teachers backdated to 1 September 2020. They will, therefore, not be seen as advisory and are likely to incur additional costs for some schools.

14. The results of our survey showed that 76 per cent of local authorities were planning on recommending where possible schools in their area implement the advisory pay points in 2020/21. Citing the need to remain competitive with surrounding area schools in order to be able to attract the best and the required subject area teachers as well as concerns (often influenced by past and current union activity) over attracting negative employee relations / engagement. Local authorities were clear that this ultimately was a school level decision and did not mean that all schools would be able to afford the likely additional increased pay costs without making savings (cuts) elsewhere.

15. Local authority regions closer geographically to Wales, referenced the proposed higher teacher pay award and compulsory national pay spine in Wales as also influencing their decision to implement the advisory pay spine in 2020/21.

16. With regards the remaining local authority responses to the question ‘if and when’ they would look to implement the advisory pay points, 17 per cent indicated that they would need to do this over time and seven per cent of local authorities did not currently think their schools would be adopting the advisory pay points (largely due to affordability, see points 17 and 18 below).

17. The main reasons for not implementing the advisory pay points in year one was due to the financial costs with some schools operating with an accrued budget deficit and the need to provide DfE with a robust three-year recovery plan.

18. We have heard some robust views from stakeholders describing the potential reluctance of some school leaders to move back to a national pay spine, albeit advisory, following the difficulty and time it took to move away from it, in order to balance the school’s budget in previous years.

Affordability

19. Whilst NEOST is supportive of the pay proposals, we also made it clear in our evidence to the STRB that any increase needed to be fully funded with new money so that it is affordable for all local authorities and schools.

20. The majority of our stakeholders told us that schools had budgeted for a maximum three per cent pay award for 2020/21 as a result of the DfE evidence to the STRB as detailed below. What was made clear in many responses was that although a school may have budgeted for a pay award of three per cent that did not mean it was affordable without making savings elsewhere for example through redundancies, a reduced curriculum, cuts to non-staffing budgets or using current reserves. Using reserves will clearly merely postpone the need to make cuts elsewhere.

21. Our stakeholders strongly disagreed with the DfE’s evidence to the STRB in that all schools could afford a three per cent increase on their teachers pay bill and NEOST provided strong evidence to the STRB to support that challenge. (In fact, the STRB recommendations and therefore re calculated average estimated cost of the proposed 2020 pay award for teachers is slightly higher than the three per cent with an average forecast of 3.1 per cent in England and 3.2 per cent in London but the core issue remains about affordability).

22. We note that Government officials are recorded in the STRB 30th Report telling the STRB during the oral evidence session that ‘they were confident that schools could afford this but an increase in excess of three per cent would be difficult for some schools to manage’.

23. The Secretary of State also warned the STRB that ‘schools had faced a more restrained funding environment in recent years and emphasised that it was important in this context that schools’ budget increases provided some headroom for expenditure on areas other than teachers' pay’.

24. In summarising the overall financial position using that latest 2019 figures available for local authority maintained schools, the STRB reported that ‘While the proportion of schools with accumulated deficits has fallen slightly, the average level of deficit has increased. At the same time, the average level of accumulated surplus for schools with financial reserves has increased. The net impact of these two conflicting trends is a slight reduction in the total revenue balance across all maintained schools.’

25. This supports the results of our survey which showed that 81 per cent of local authorities indicated that they would need to revisit their financial plans for schools as a result of these pay proposals, with 79 per cent indicating that this was likely to result in some difficult decisions.

26. With the average cost of STRB’s recommendations estimated at 3.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent in London and without additional new money, schools are expected to fund this additional cost within existing budgets. Stakeholders reminded us that the pay bill for teachers makes up the biggest item in the school’s budget (It typically represents over 70 per cent of expenditure). With 10 per cent of schools operating in an accrued budget deficit position and lost income as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions (closure of wrap around care facilities and lettings) this will have an impact. Many schools will find it extremely difficult to find this extra money without having to make savings (cuts) elsewhere.

27. As indicated above the funding challenge is highly likely to result in further jobs being lost in order to balance some school budgets. Experience over recent years would suggest that the first and most likely job reductions would be support staff roles. This negatively impacts the workload of teachers which is already a clear concern in the sector and was cited in our evidence as one of the reasons teachers leave the profession (56 per cent of the 26 per cent that were considering leaving the profession in the next 12 months). In addition, role reductions in schools generally result in increased class sizes and/or affect subjects with lower take up therefore reducing the breadth of the curriculum (and thus pupil choices and possibly attainment outcomes.)

School funding

28. NEOST acknowledges and welcomed at the time, the 2019 Spending Round which confirmed the government’s commitment to a £7.1 billion increase in funding for schools by 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels. Ahead of that, the schools’ budget was reported to rise by £2.6 billion in 2020-21 and £4.8 billion in 2021-22, compared to 2019-20 funding levels.

29. We are pleased that the LGA’s call for more money to be made available to support children with SEND has been recognised and in the longer term we are keen to work with the Government to tackle the high needs funding gap facing councils as demand for support continues to increase. We want to see all schools become more inclusive so that more children with high needs can be appropriately supported in mainstream schools

30. As the STRB 30th Report described it is a complex task and too early in any event to accurately assess the impact of this additional funding on future school budgets. However, analysis reported in the Guardian newspaper by the House of Commons library calculated that the additional £2.6 billion for school funding promised in the 2019 spending round will reduced to £1.7bn in 2020-21 after accounting for the proposed teachers’ pay rise. Compared with 2019-20. That means the school budget increase from the DfE will slow from 5.1% to 1.9% in real terms.

31. This is further supported by the comments reported in the STRB 30th report following the STRB’s school visits in 2019. They found ‘Most school leaders we spoke to told us school funding was having an impact on decisions about recruitment and retention. Some schools were benefitting from the National Funding Formula but in other areas we heard that this would place additional pressures on school budgets. Many of the schools we had visited had needed to restructure their staffing to balance budgets and several head teachers noted that this presented risks to pupil outcomes.’

32. The funding gap for schools has been highlighted by a coalition named f40 who act as an education fair funding campaign group, made up of 42 local authorities. Whilst the group acknowledge the Government’s pledge to boost education spending by £7.1bn over three years (2019-22/23) is a step in the right direction, they report that once pay and pension rises have been taken into account, budgets will still fail to keep pace with the growing demands on schools. They believe education needs an additional £5.5bn by 2023 to restore funding to previous levels. The analysis is backed by three leading education unions, the National Education Union (NEU), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). We cannot verify this research, but the general point being made certainly chimes with the feedback from NEOST consultees.

33. As reflected in the STRB 30th Report, ASCL, NAHT, NEU, NGA and the Voice agree with the NEOST position that made it clear that additional funding is needed to fully cover the costs for all schools to apply the uplifts to teachers’ pay in 2020/21 including the likely costs of moving to the advisory pay points where a school decides to do so.

34. Several of our stakeholders referenced the Government’s decision not to increase the pension grant values as well as the pay grant values of the 2018 and 2019 pay awards. As the employer’s contribution rate increased from 16.48% to 23.68% from 1 September 2019 this is a significant additional cost for schools in funding the 2020 increases in teachers' pay as a result of the proposals.

35. Many of our stakeholders provided verbatim evidence on the specific financial impact of the proposed 2020 teachers' pay award. We have highlighted a small number of responses below across England to give a flavour of the issues raised around funding.

36. A London borough told us that they have ‘27 per cent of schools in deficit and 66 per cent of schools projecting an in -year deficit in 2020-21. With a depleting reserve position on the Designated Schools Grant and schools reserve, the ongoing pressures building within our schools will inadvertently affect the overall position of the Local Authority without additional funding to support the increased costs.’

37. A large authority in the East of England explained how ‘there are an increasing number of schools in deficit, 50 schools compared to 35 a year ago and there were 274 schools (including academies) out of 554 with in-year deficits.’

38. A large authority in the South East explained that ‘226 of their schools are set to receive a percentage change in pupil led funding of less than 3.1% equating to 46% of schools. Whilst the school level impact of the pay award will vary from school to school, this is a strong indicator that many schools will be seeing a real term cut in funding as a result of the pay award. This includes 65 out of 92 small schools (less than 150 number on roll) with many of these schools only seeing the minimum increase in funding of two per cent. Small schools in particular are facing significant financial pressures …’

39. An authority in the North East explained that ‘most schools have been limited to a 1.84% per pupil increase in 2020-21 and will be unlikely to receive more than 2% in 2021-22. Cumulative school balances for maintained schools halved in 2019-20, therefore the ability of schools to fund rises from reserves is very limited. Increases of this level along with similar levels of increase in support staff pay without any additional funding are likely to result in schools needing to undertake further reviews of staffing levels.

40. A large authority in the South West reported that ‘almost a third of our schools are running with either a deficit or are at risk of a deficit budget in the coming year. Many of the schools have only coped with recent pay increases due to the pay grant. Without continued funding, the pay award is unaffordable, and a number of schools are already reporting a need to consider redundancies.

41. Finally, a large authority in the East Midlands estimated that ‘80% of schools will see a negative headroom as a result of a 3.1% increase in their teachers pay bill, with the deficit ranging from -£1k to -£347k, with 9 schools in the +£100k range.’

42. Costs have increased across a range of areas, including salary costs associated with the National Living Wage, National Insurance, inflation, pensions, and SEND provision, amongst others.

Centrally employed teachers

43. The latest DfE figures (November 2019) record a full time equivalent of 3666 Centrally Employed Teachers. These are Teachers working across schools directly employed by the local authority. NEOST is seeking confirmation from government that the pay increase from 2018, 2019, the proposed 2020 increase and future pay awards for CETs will be fully funded. The lack of direct funding in recent years has likely contributed to the reduction of 234 (FTE) CETs since last year (2019), with this year’s award alone costing a roughly estimated £5 million increase on the CETs pay bill for local authorities in England.

44. Several local authorities told us that without full funding for CETs further cuts will need to be made as the Dedicated Schools Grant is under enormous pressure as a result of increased SEND costs etc. If full funding is not provided then many local authorities and academies who also employ CETs have told us they will need to reduce, stop or pass the full costs onto schools. This impacts directly on the special provision of services that include music services, school improvement and SEND provision. If as we anticipate not all schools are able to absorb these increased costs (based on evidence thus far) it puts the whole funding model that enables these services at risk. Central government must therefore fully fund the cost of implementing the 2018, 2019 and 2020 pay awards to maintain the quality and range of educational services available to pupils.

45. Local authorities described the impact of the unfunded CETs pay award. One large local authority in the south east calculated that the 2020 pay award contributed to an unfunded pressure of £190,000. Adding that ‘with pressures faced in many years, many efficiencies have already been realised. It is likely this increased cost will therefore need to be met through increases in charges to schools for these services or through a reduction in service provision, which were reduced, ultimately can also bring cost to schools themselves through seeking equivalent services elsewhere or need to supplement services in-house.’

Proposed change to the STPCD for 'additional payments'

46. The draft STPCD shows a tracked change to paragraph 26 ‘Additional Payments’ with the wording ‘head teacher’ proposed to be replace by ‘teacher on the leadership pay range’. Our stakeholders have informed us that this proposed change to STPCD (widening the exclusion of additional payments for teachers on the leadership range) will reduce the pay flexibilities for a significant number of schools whilst increasing the unnecessary bureaucracy around the current freedom that many schools use to reward Assistant Head Teachers and Deputy Head Teachers who agree to temporarily work across schools to e.g. drive up educational outcomes for pupils.

47. This change also acts as a disincentive to moving into leadership as for e.g. it is not clear if the Leading Practitioner range (which the maxima range is higher than the bottom of the leadership range) is able to receive additional payments for a range of specified reasons/ activities.

48. NEOST is seeking urgent confirmation that this proposed amendment to the STPCD is not agreed and if further information is required on this point then we seek reassurances that we will be consulted further prior to the publication of the final STPCD in October.

Consultation process, timing and detail

49. This year the STRB report and draft STPCD consultation report were again published jointly on the 21 July 2020, when the vast majority of schools had closed. Of course, in 2020 this also coincided the fact many school leaders and others not having had a break since March as a result of managing the demands brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. As was the case last year the consultation period was helpfully extended to 8 weeks, but it was still over the summer holiday period. This was particularly unpopular and unhelpful for schools in terms of their ability to plan and respond. We are grateful for the efforts of our stakeholders in dealing with our consultation during this period.

50. The current process and timescale impact negatively on the application of the DfE guidance on the appraisal process within schools. Governing bodies must consult representatives of recognised trade unions before finalising their own revised pay policy / pay structure ahead of setting appraisal objectives. This last-minute approach places immense pressure on governing bodies, school leaders and other staff to agree new policies and then meet the best practice deadline of the 31st October each year.

51. NEOST reminds policy makers that the teachers’ pay award that has a statutory effective date of the 1 September - aligned to the start of the school academic year. It is essential for employers to budget, plan and utilise their flexibilities to set effective workforce development programmes to align with organisational priorities and affordability. Local authorities and school leaders have informed us of the difficulties they experience reviewing their pay policies in a managed and timely fashion as a result of the delayed consultation and final STPCD.

Future remit

52. The STRB report makes a number of observations and comments relating to the focus of future remits which include reviewing the role of the Upper Pay Range. The vast majority of local authorities and schools have continued to ask that the changes to enable teachers to voluntarily step down from the Upper Pay Range to the Main Pay Range. Therefore, NEOST asks that this issue be included in the STRB remit for 2021.

Appendix

Background

The LGA undertook a short online survey which all 151 local education authorities were invited to complete which achieved a response rate of over 40%. The closing date was 18 August 2020.

Please see the main report for a summary of the responses received.

The survey questions were as follows:

  • Roughly how many maintained schools do you represent?
  • What is the estimated number of academy schools in your local authority?
  • What is the approximate Teacher headcount in your local authority?
  • What is the approximate Teacher FTE in your local authority?
  • What do you think the impact will be on your schools (3.1% in England and 3.2% in London estimated cost on teachers’ pay bill) as the pay award comes with no new funding and the estimated cost detailed above is higher than 3% DfE pay option to the STRB?
  • In principle does your local authority/ schools support the higher increase (creating a higher starting salary) for M1? (Yes/No response) See Chart 1 below
  • Is this proposal likely to have a positive impact on retention and recruitment for schools in your area? (10 positive impact to 0 no impact at all) See Chart 2 below
  • Will you need to revisit your financial planning as a result of this proposal? (Yes/No response) See Chart 3 below
  • How concerned are you about that? (10 positive impact to 0 no impact at all) See Chart 4 below
  • How will different schools in your area be disproportionately impacted?
  • Will you introduce the new advisory pay points in the STPCD? (Options were Yes In Year 1, Yes but over time and No) See Chart 5 below
  • What’s the impact on your budget in relation to Centrally Employed Teachers for your local authority and schools in your area?
  • We appreciate that much of the evidence that you can provide will be anecdotal any evidence backed up with facts and figures will help to strengthen the NEOST response around the funding implications.
  • Is there anything else you think it would be helpful to tell us?

Charts

Chart 1

In principle, does your local authority/schools support the higher increase (creating a higher starting salary) for M1?

63 Responses

Yes No
56 7

 

Chart 2

Is this proposal likely to have a positive impact on retention and recruitment for schools in your area?

Scale - (10 = positive, to 0 = no impact) Number of local authorities
0 2
1 1
2 2
3 7
4 1
5 18
6 10
7 15
8 5
9 0
10 1

 

Chart 3

Will you need to revisit your financial planning as a result of this proposal?

62 responses

Yes No
51 11

 

Chart 4

How concerned are you about that?

Scale - (10 = positive, to 0 = no impact) Number of local authorities
0 5
1 1
2 2
3 4
4 0
5 13
6 3
7 5
8 13
9 9
10 7

 

Chart 5

Will you introduce the new advisory paypoints in the STPCD?

63 responses

No Yes in year 1 Yes over time
4 48 11