NEOST response to draft STPCD 2021

Response to the consultation on the Government’s response to the School Teachers’ Review Body’s 31st Report and the draft 2021 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document.


Introduction

Five logos - NEOST, LGA, Confederation of school trusts, The Church of England education office, Catholic Education Service.

 

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) 31st Report, the draft 2021 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and the Pay Order 2021.

Executive summary

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

  • welcomes the decision to fully implement the STRB recommendations on the uplift for eligible Unqualified Teachers (UTs) as well as the reintroduction of the advisory pay points for the UT pay range.
  • is concerned about the impact of the pay pause and agrees with the STRB’s conclusion that it is likely to increase existing recruitment and retention difficulties.
  • asks for the proposed guidance for the new flexibilities around continuous TLR3 payments to be amended so that the guidance is clear on the awarding criteria in order to ensure local authorities and schools are not put under any unintended and unfunded financial pressure.
  • in relation to next year’s STRB remit asks for two specific issues to be included and prioritised (arrangements to enable Upper Pay Range (UPR) teachers to move voluntarily back to Main Pay Range (MPR) and a review of the pay safeguarding arrangements).
  • supports the four areas (Equalities, Wellbeing, Performance Related Pay and Leadership) that the STRB identified for future remits.
  • notes the Government’s continued commitment to establish a future starting salary for teachers of £30,000. However, NEOST continues to hold the view that this policy should be seen in a wider context, to support the sufficient future supply and retention of quality teachers and school leaders.
  • highlights the need for careful consideration to be given to the phasing and timing of any agreed reviews as they are likely to recommend significant system wide changes.
  • asks, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, that Government takes into account the STRB’s analysis and NEOST evidence in relation to future school funding for any future pay awards.
  • seeks an effective consultation process next year that avoids the school holidays and respects the needs of employers to budget and plan for a pay award due in law by the 1 September.

Background

3. As reported by the National Audit Office (1) (NAO), in January 2020, there were over 20,200 mainstream state schools in England, educating over 8.1 million pupils aged four to 19. Around 11,700 of these schools (fifty- eight per cent of the total), with 3.8 million pupils, were maintained schools, funded and overseen by local authorities. The STPCD is a statutory document that all maintained schools must legally adhere too.

4. 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.

5. NEOST is the single statutory employer representative body invited to respond to the DfE consultation on the STRB’s 31st Report, the draft STPCD 2021 and the Pay order 2021. NEOST also represents the employer side for the national collective agreement on conditions outside of the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), commonly known as the Burgundy Book. This agreement continues to apply in Wales and therefore the Welsh Local Government Association remains a member of NEOST.

6. 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. In Foundation and Voluntary-Aided schools the governing body is the employer of school staff.

(1) www.nao.org.uk/report/school-funding-in-england/

Our consultation with stakeholders

7. The strategic lead for education of children and young people is provided by 151 English local authorities. To inform this response, the NEOST secretariat consulted all education authorities, Employer Link (LGA subscription service for academies) 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.

8. The LGA undertook an online survey to inform this response. All 151 local education authorities were invited to complete the consultation and we received sixty-seven responses (forty-four per cent response rate) from local authorities.  Responding local authorities estimated that they are the joint employer in a total of 6263 schools, which equates to fifty-four per cent of maintained schools in England.  They also reported providing pay policy information and/or advice to an additional 1847 academy schools.  Please refer to appendix 1 for the full results of the survey.

9. Local authorities provided views based on a combination of their own knowledge and experience and feedback provided to them by schools where circumstances allowed. We achieved a good response rate of forty-four per cent given the ongoing pressures on schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the tight timescale over the summer holiday period. In addition, we have received feedback to inform this submission from ten regional schools HR networks whose members provide support to both maintained and academy schools, and a national sounding board of local authority school HR practitioners from every region. 

10. Through the LGA’s wider role and network of relationships with Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), we have also received additional feedback on the proposed changes to teachers’ pay and conditions for 2021, which appear to be broadly in-line with the overall views of local authorities. (The LGA runs a subscriber service called Employer Link, to advise the academies sector on pay and conditions and support a national network of HR leads in MATs, this covers in excess of 300 employers and almost 3,000 academies).

Proposed pay award for eligible unqualified teachers and pay pause policy

11. NEOST supports a level of pay protection for lower paid public sector workers. We therefore welcome the decision to fully implement the STRB recommendations, including the proposed uplift for eligible UTs. We note that this is estimated to apply to around 6,000 teachers paid on the UTs teacher pay range.

12. Informed by our stakeholders’ responses, NEOST welcomes the reintroduction of the now ‘advisory’ pay points for the UT’s Pay Range alongside the employer discretion to manage any leapfrogging issues.

13. NEOST remains concerned about the impact the pay pause may have on the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers and leaders. 

14. As recognised by NEOST, the STRB and other consultees, teachers and school leaders have faced unprecedented challenges during the last two academic years. This includes keeping schools open to key groups of children throughout periods of national lockdown, managing the balance between face-to-face teaching and virtual delivery of lessons, managing examinations and appeals and adapting school infrastructure and processes to ensure compliance with DfE and PHE guidance. In many schools this has coincided with serious staffing issues caused by illness or self-isolation. 

15. Teachers’ pay is devolved to the appropriate governments in Scotland and Wales.  The Welsh Independent Review Body has recommended a 1.75 per cent increase for all teachers’ pay including allowances, which the Welsh Government has agreed in principle and we understand is expected to publish the final Welsh STPCD 2021 shortly.  In Scotland the agreed public sector pay policy, which applies to teachers working in Scotland’s schools in 2021/22, provides a pay increase of two per cent for those earning over £25,000 and up to £40,000 with a one per cent pay uplift to those earning over £40,000 and up to £80,000. To reduce the overall income gap, a capped increase of £800 for those earning above £80,000 is in place.  

16. In England the government also accepted the Pay Review Bodies’ recommendations of a three per cent pay award uplift for NHS staff.

17.    School support staff within maintained schools are covered by the NJC for Local Government Services. The three unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite) are currently consulting on a final offer of 1.75 per cent (2.75 per cent on the lowest pay point). The outcome of the unions’ ballots will be known in early to mid-October.

18. NEOST therefore concludes that there is a pay context in which teachers in England are caught within the strict application of public sector pay policy which is likely to exacerbate existing concerns within the workforce. We join with the STRB when they say in their report “This poses significant risks to teacher recruitment and retention.” Although we recognise that pay is only one factor in improving the situation, we support the STRB’s comments that urge the government to allow the STRB to fully exercise their role in recommending pay uplifts for all teacher for 2022/23.

Recruitment and retention

19. The vast majority of our stakeholders indicated significant concerns when asked in the LGA survey about the likely impact the pay pause will have on the future recruitment and retention of school leaders and teachers, as can be seen in the results below.

Q6 PAY - How concerned are you about the impact on recruitment and retention in your schools with the proposed pay pause/freeze for school leaders and qualified teachers?

1 – Not concerned

 

2

 

3

 

4

4 responses

5

10 responses

6

5 responses

7

10 responses

8

21 responses

9

8 responses

10 – Most concerned

8 responses

Left blank

1 response

AVERAGE

7.36

Advisory pay points

20. The re-introduction of national pay points across all the pay ranges is something that our stakeholders and NEOST have repeatedly asked for over many years. We welcomed the re-introduction of UTs pay spine along with the MPR and UPR that were introduced last year, albeit also 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 UTs advisory pay points in full and backdated to 1 September 2021. They will, therefore, not be seen as advisory and as a result of the proposed pay uplifts for the lower points, are likely to incur additional costs for the vast majority of schools.

21. In response to our consultation on the STRB remit in December 2020, eighty-four per cent of respondents indicated that taken in isolation this one relatively small costs pressure of £250 for eligible unqualified teachers would have little or a moderate impact on a schools’ overall financial position (albeit our previous STRB submission on the broader picture of school finances still stands). This conclusion is supported in the independent research the LGA commissioned, which reported that the impact of the proposed pay award for eligible teachers is likely to be extremely modest. When set against the notional minimum increase for primary and secondary schools there can be little question of affordability. 

22. However, most importantly the report concluded that the current situation regarding school finances is not a level playing field, and for any school already in financial difficulties, with unfunded Covid-19 costs, a minimum formula funding increase, a squeeze on SEND top-up funding and a cash freeze for the Pupil Premium Grant, the impact will be greater. 

23. As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, that Government takes into account the evidence, analysis, and comments above from NEOST and the STRB in relation to future school funding for any future pay awards. As explained in the STRB report there are new and continued COVID-19 related financial pressures and reduced financial sustainability across the whole school system. Without adequate funding to cover continued cost pressures and any existing budget deficits, some schools will have to make savings elsewhere to fund the necessary future pay awards which is likely to have a negative impact on teachers’ workloads, leading to a potential increase in recruitment and retention difficulties

Early career teachers

24. Our stakeholders overwhelmingly supported the addition of the statutory induction changes for Early Career Teachers (ECTs).

25. In addition, of those that were able to answer the question, the vast majority indicated that their schools would be taking up the additional funding offered to support the second year of further development targeted for NQTs from the 2020 intake (noting their own development was likely to have been disrupted due to COVID-19). Reponses also indicated that this funded intervention was a measure likely to support the recruitment and retention of teachers.

Additional bank holiday (3rd June 2020) arrangements

 26. The proposed changes reflect a reduction in the number of days teachers must be available to work as a result of the additional Bank Holiday on Friday 3rd June 2022 to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. These changes were fully supported by the vast majority of respondents.

27. Although twenty-six per cent of responses did not agree that adequate notice had been provided to enable local authorities and schools to manage the necessary changes to the 2021/22 timetable. A number of local authorities explained that academic term dates are set well ahead, in some cases years ahead therefore the announcement in the draft STPCD on 21 July 2021 left it too late for some local authorities and schools to plan and consult parents, pupils, staff and unions ahead of implementing the term dates for 2021.

28. The DfE had provided the LGA with some non-statutory guidance that was forwarded onto local authorities and schools earlier this year, as a result of the LGA sharing a number of local authorities concerns. However understandably a number of local authorities decided it was necessary to await the DfE published advice and requirements ahead of deciding how best to implement those requirements locally.

Flexibilities around TLR3

29. The Draft STPCD 2021, under section 3 – Guidance for Local Authorities etc. Paragraph 53 proposes to introduce new flexibilities around TLR3s by removing the consecutive use clause, which could introduce a payment mechanism for tutoring when being delivered by MPR and UPR teachers, to address learning disruption as a result of the pandemic.

30. Although sixty-four per cent of local authorities who responded did not expect this new flexibility to cause their schools any problems, twenty-eight per cent of local authorities indicated that this proposed change would cause their schools some problems and did not expect their schools to want to use this new flexibility. Many went on to explain this was due in part to the confusion around whether the tutoring would take place within a teacher’s directed time or not. This question introduces the risk of double paying teachers for hours already paid under directed time and therefore impacting negatively on budgets as well as raising expectations around additional pay for tutoring, resulting in likely negative employee and industrial relations.

31. The survey results show that eighty-five per cent of respondents currently use the STPCD 2020, Additional Payments, Paragraph 26.1 c) participation in out-of-school hours learning activity agreed between the teacher and the headteacher, to reward teachers who undertake tutoring of pupils outside of their directed time.

32. One large local authority with close to 500 schools explained how this new flexibility could be used appropriately if the guidance was clarified. They told us that they did anticipate that schools will want their strongest teachers who know the pupils best to be supporting those with gaps and it is possible that schools will want to take pupils out of existing classes to deliver that 1-2-1 activity. They went on to explain that where teachers take additional responsibility to plan for such activity, over and above other teachers, it is right that they are rewarded. They do however, plan to make clear in their guidance and advice to schools, the differences between the two arrangements i.e., STPCD 2020 Para 26.1c being used to pay for both the time and responsibility for undertaking this activity outside of hours (i.e., outside of the school day) – they already advise on specific hourly rates for those teachers delivering the tutoring. Separately a TLR3 payment to pay for the additional responsibility of planning, preparing and co-ordinating but not to cover the time taken for delivery of this activity as this is being delivered during the school day and the time taken will have already been accounted for (i.e., would have been time that they would ordinarily have taught other classes or be timetabled for other activity).

33. Acting in the role of secretariate for NEOST, the LGA discussed the proposed TLR3 change with the LGA National Sounding Board for School Workforce issues, which includes the three NEOST National Advisers. Members of the group, who are senior workforce leads for schools across England, expressed significant concerns around the lack of clarity around directed or non-directed time, causing confusion and negatively impacting on employee/industrial relations and school budgets. They also highlighted that the proposed change has been made under Section 3 Guidance and not aligned within the main STPCD Section 2, paragraphs 20 and 26 specifically.

34. NEOST therefore requests the final STPCD guidance is strengthened to provide clarity that any TLR3 payment for tutoring as described is to reward for the additional responsibility of planning, preparing and co-ordinating but not to cover the time taken for delivery of this specific tutoring activity if it is within the teachers’ directed time. If the tutoring activity is outside of directed time and outside of normal school day, then the guidance should indicate that this mechanism is already covered in Section 2 in paragraph 26.1c).

Future STRB remits

35. Respondents overwhelmingly supported the four areas (Equalities, Wellbeing, Performance Related Pay, Leadership framework) that the STRB highlighted as priority areas for future remits.

36. Nearly all our stakeholders agreed that next year’s remit should prioritise a review of enabling UPR teachers to voluntarily move back to the MPR within their existing school as well as a review of the pay safeguarding arrangements.

37. NEOST therefore invites DfE to enter into discussions with us in order to inform the prioritisation of the above reviews (movement from UPR to MPR and pay safeguarding) and to be actively involved in early discussions involving careful consideration to the phasing and timing of any agreed reviews. NEOST accepts that this change would be controversial with teaching trade unions, but our stakeholders are very clear that a significant number of teachers request to move from UPR to MPR for numerous reasons including as part of their retirement plan or wellbeing and currently even if
employers wanted to agree the teacher’s request, they are legally unable to as a result of the current STPCD regulations

38. Any agreed changes are likely to involve wide scale system wide changes that local authorities and schools as employers will need adequate time to plan, cost, consult and implement any proposed new arrangements.
 

Consultation process, timing and detail

39. This year the STRB report and draft STPCD consultation report were again published jointly on the 21 July 2021 as they were in 2020, when the vast majority of schools had closed. This late publication of the STRB report and the Draft STPCD has now occurred over several years. As was the case in the previous 3 years the consultation period was helpfully extended to 8 weeks, but it was still over the summer holiday period. This makes it particularly challenging 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.

40. It should be noted that 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 of October each year.

41. NEOST reminds policy makers that the teachers’ pay award 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.

Suggested errors in the draft STPCD

42. The statutory minimum salary point across the ranges needs to be updated to reflect the new minimum salary point i.e., consolidated £250 or more payment, as is shown in the advisory UTs pay range which is attached as an appendix in the draft STPCD.