Teacher unions accept the government’s pay award.  What now?

Strikes over; now what?

On 31 July the UK’s largest teaching union voted to accept the government’s pay award.  But what lies beneath?

The vote by members of the NUT follows a similar vote by The Association of School and College Leaders.

Schools will receive an additional £482.5 million in the 2023-24 financial year which began last April, and £827.5 million in the 2024-25 financial year. Early years and post-16 establishments will also get extra funding. 

As a result, schools have now got more money, but have fewer teachers to spend it on.

What the additional payments mean is that 3.5 percent of the pay rise given to teachers will have to come out of the £482.5 million, although schools have already been budgeting for that pay rise.  The government has also promised that no cash will be taken from special needs funding, nurseries or the funding of education for 16 to 19 year olds.

However, it is calling back money from its tutoring programme, where schools have not spent it.  Although it is not being admitted by the government the lack of spending the allocation seems to be almost totally due to a lack of availability of tutors.

The government will however, set up a £40m hardship fund for schools that find themselves in difficulty and the education secretary Gillian Keegan said, “no school will face financial challenges”.

And perhaps the key to all of what is happening comes in one short section of the statement associated with the award, which says that the government will set up a “workload reduction taskforce” to reduce working hours by five hours a week.

This will include a plan to add a “revised list of administrative tasks that teachers should not be expected to do” into the teachers’ pay and conditions handbook.

So to turn to our main question: what does it mean for suppliers?

The hidden sub-text in all this is that in the last two years, the number of unfilled teacher posts has doubled with the TES showing 7,500 unfilled roles, a week after the deadline for teachers to resign in the summer 2023 term.  That means most of the 7500 posts will remain unfilled in September.  Meanwhile, the level of staff absence through stress and sickness has continued to grow.

Northern Education Trust’s accounts, for example, noted recruitment had been “significantly challenging”, leaving some posts vacant throughout the year – “despite rigorous efforts to recruit staff and increased employee incentive schemes”. 

Overall, pupil numbers have risen 27 percent faster than teacher numbers since 2017, with the current shortfall estimated at around 4,000 teachers – and getting worse all the time.

Inevitably, Ofsted’s latest annual report warned that shortages of staff were having a significant impact.  It is known that supply teacher numbers dropped by 11 percent between 2019 and 2021, and such information as is available shows the decline not just continuing but actually accelerating.  

Supply teacher salaries are not covered by national agreements and so many employers had cut the amount being paid – reports show some posts being offered for £74 a day.  Given that there are only 200 teaching days in a year, that would give a salary of £14,800.  The average salary last year in England was £33,280.

However, the money being saved through having a shortage of teachers, and a completely inadequate number of supply teachers is not lost to the schools, and it is most certainly not returned to the government.  It is instead there for schools to use on anything they wish – and is primarily going on new materials and resources. 

This of course is where the positive side of this situation emerges: for as a result schools effectively do have more money to spend on services and products, and as those teachers left in the system start planning for the new school year we can expect some significant purchasing to take place.

If you wish to advertise your products or services to schools, is always ready and willing to help with emails targeted at specific teachers.  These are available as one-off promotions or as a series of promotions at discounted prices.

And perhaps most importantly, in the unlikely case that any of your promotions receive a lower response rate than you had hoped for, we are always happy to look at the promotion, and suggest possible modifications.

Then, if you like what we have written, we’ll send out the promotion for you again, completely free of charge.  And just to be clear, we’ll re-write your promotion, and if you are happy with the result, we’ll send our version out for you, at no cost to you at all.

To find out more please call 01536 747 861 or email  

Tony Attwood

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