Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our teachers for their remarkable dedication, endurance and fortitude throughout the turbulence of the past three years. During the pandemic, teachers and educational staff have conquered many seemingly insurmountable challenges and played an incredible role in ensuring that our children continued to receive the fantastic education they deserve.
To that end, I am delighted the Government has recently announced a further £2,186,538 in funding for schools in Mid Sussex, as part of £2 billion boost, this year and next, for primary schools and secondary schools in England: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/mims-davies-mp-welcomes-ps2-billion-extra-funding-schools
As a result of this cash injection, a typical primary school in the constituency will receive, approximately, an extra £35,000 and £200,000 for a typical secondary school.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has highlighted this uplift will mean 2024–25 will be the highest spending year in history for schools. In total, the schools' budget will be £58.8 billion in 2024-25–meaning the Conservative Government is putting more into school than ever before. It also means school funding is set to rise faster than forecast inflation in both 2023–24 and 2024–25.
Nevertheless, I appreciate that funding alone is not enough. It is down to our teachers, who are the fabric of our school system, and their selfless service and skill that ensures that young people can leave school with the knowledge and opportunities they need to get on in life.
The Department for Education is aware of the challenges that teachers have faced over the past three years. As such, I welcome that the Department has taken several steps to support teachers to stay in the profession and thrive.
For example, I am pleased teachers across the country have benefitted from pay increases of between 5% and 8.9% since September 2022. Pay for experienced teachers, who have been in the profession for more than five years, will now rise by 5% in over next academic year – an increase on the Government’s initial proposal of 3%, in recognition of the broader economic context and the STRB’s recommendations. The rise is equivalent to an increase of almost £2,100 on the average salary of £42,400 this year.
As well as pushing teacher starting salaries up towards the £30,000 milestone and giving experienced teachers the biggest pay rise in a generation, the Chancellor has also confirmed that schools in England will receive an additional £2 billion in funding next year and the year after.
I am proud that this will be the highest real terms spending on schools in history, totalling £58.8 billion by 2024/25.
Nevertheless, I can assure you the Secretary of State for Education continues to work with Cabinet colleagues to seek a fair and reasonable resolution to the pay dispute with teachers. However, pay rises for teachers in the 2023/24 academic year must strike a careful balance between recruiting and retaining the best teachers and recognising their vital importance, alongside considering both affordability for schools and the wider economic context.
So far, teachers in England have rejected a pay offer from the Government that would have seen salaries rise by 4.5 per cent on average next year, alongside a one-off payment of £1,000 for this year. The offer was funded, including major new investment of over half a billion pounds, and helps tackle issues teachers are facing like workload.
It is hugely disappointing the NEU has thus far refused this serious offer and has not joined the Royal College of Nurses in calling off strikes. Instead of sitting round a table discussing pay, the NEU will once again cause disruption for children and families. The NEU has even rejected an offer to create a new taskforce to help reduce workload by an average of five hours a week for teachers and leaders. These decisions are woefully disappointing and means less money for teachers this year and possible disruption to students preparing for exams.
I find it even more disheartening that the NEU are now re-balloting for more strike action up until Christmas. After all, the greatest casualties of this disruption are the children who are already playing catch-up following the pandemic.
As you may know, the School Teachers’ Review Body will make recommendations on the pay of teachers in England and will report to the Secretary of State for Education and the Prime Minister. As such, teachers' pay for next year will now go through an independent pay review process as usual.
In the meantime, I can assure you at the heart of the Government’s approach is the conviction that teachers are our society’s most valuable asset. We know that nothing matters more in improving education than giving every child access to the best possible teaching. In my opinion, there is no calling more noble, no profession more vital and no service more important than teaching.
It is because we believe in the importance of teaching – as the means by which we liberate every child to become the adult they aspire to be – that government is working tirelessly to secure an acceptable pay-settlement for teachers. The importance of teaching cannot be over-stated. And that is why there is a fierce urgency to our plans to settle ongoing pay disputes.