The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in England has voted overwhelmingly to reject the government’s pay offer for teachers. This is the third union to reject the offer, with the National Education Union (NEU) planning further strikes. The government has said that the offer was funded and included a 5% pay rise in 2022, a 4.3% rise next year, and a £1,000 one-off payment this year. However, unions have argued that taking the money from schools’ budgets could lead to cuts elsewhere.
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said that members felt “insulted” by the offer and that it was not “properly funded”. He called on the government to return to the negotiating table, though the government has said this offer would be its last. Joanne Hall, head teacher at Merritts Brook primary school in Birmingham, said that teachers deserved a pay rise but that funding them from school budgets would mean making cuts elsewhere.
In response, a Department for Education spokesperson said that the offer was funded and would help tackle issues such as workload. They added that unions’ rejection of the offer would “simply result in more disruption for children and less money for teachers today”. The NEU has voted for five strike dates next term, three of which have yet to be confirmed.
The NAHT, which has 37,000 members working in schools, has not been on strike in England. It balloted its members on industrial action this year, but failed to meet the legally required 50% turnout threshold to organise strikes. In a survey of NAHT members over the past week, 78% of respondents said they wanted to vote again and take industrial action, and 90% voted to reject the improved pay offer. The NASUWT union ballot of members closes this week.
The dispute is formally about pay, but unions have also been campaigning on issues such as workload, recruitment and retention. Teacher salaries fell by an average of 11% between 2010 and 2022, after taking inflation into account, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. If you are a head teacher affected by these issues, you can share your experiences by emailing HaveYourSay@bbc.co.uk or by using other methods such as WhatsApp or Twitter.