I hope Brent headteachers will sign this letter that sets the issues out with great clarity:
We the undersigned, all being head teachers at state schools in England, are very concerned about the damage being done to the education system by the worsening problem of teacher shortages. Recruitment and retention have never been so challenging as they are at this present time. It is becoming increasingly difficult to put a qualified teacher in front of every class. We fear that educational provision and standards are at risk unless urgent action is taken to address this gathering crisis.
At a time like this, it is more important than ever that we have certainty that the pay award for 2023/24 will begin to address these problems. We are aware that you are in possession of the School Teachers’ Review Body recommendation. According to media reports, this recommendation is for a 6.5% pay uplift. It is of the utmost importance that you publish this report at the earliest date, together with confirmation of whether the government will agree to this recommendation. It is also vital that the government commits to funding any pay award for every school. This must not be based upon a notional assessment of what is affordable for an average school. There is no such thing as an average school and our concern is that many schools will once again be left in a position of having to cut staffing numbers in order to afford the pay award.
We must have certainty over the pay award and associated funding in order to give us some degree of confidence that the government is committed to addressing the deepening problems with recruitment and retention, and so that schools and trusts are able to budget for the new academic year. The late publication of the STRB report that we have seen in recent years makes it impossible to plan with any degree of financial certainty. No business could operate in an environment in which staffing costs were decided at the last minute and without sufficient funding to pay those costs, and yet this is how the government expects to run a vital public service.
This is a time when the government must act in the interests of children and young people by urgently putting in place a funding and pay settlement which eases the immediate crisis and establishes a foundation on which to build. Parents will rightly expect the education system to be properly resourced, and the workforce deserves a better deal which rebuilds morale and properly values the importance of teaching to the future of the country. We call upon you to show vision by backing education.