By James Halfpenny, of the EIS teachers’ union in West Dunbartonshire
The latest pay offer to teachers by the Scottish Government and COSLA was simply a reheating of the offer previously rejected by the EIS. It includes no additional money and will serve only to strengthen the resolve of our members to be paid what they deserve for the incredibly demanding job which they do.
In the last 10 years teachers pay has fallen by over 20%.
Recent increases in NI contributions and pension contributions have caused teachers “take home” pay to fall even further.
The offer by our employers of this pitiful and insulting 5% pay award would further cement this decline in our pay.
The latest Education statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for this year shows that pay at the top of the teachers scale in Scotland is still below both the EU and OECD averages.
Scotland has one of the highest rates of class contact time across OECD countries.
Scotland has some of the largest class sizes across the OECD member states.
Scottish primary class sizes remain stubbornly above both the EU and OECD averages.
The Scottish Government’s own figures show that between 2009 and 2019 the number of children with ASN being taught full time in mainstream classes has increased nearly ten fold with no corresponding action on class sizes.
In 2021, 33% of the school population were identified as having an additional support need .
In the most recent survey of EIS members in 2021 teachers report working on average 46 hours per week compared to their contractual 35 hours. This equates to more than an extra day of work, every week for our members – unpaid.
Teachers are having to use break and lunchtimes to liaise with colleagues and other professionals to plan for and support pupils. This is unacceptable and unsustainable.
And in return, what are we offered? A real terms pay cut of over 7%.
Not only that, we have now waited 9 months for this year’s pay increase. That’s 9 months of zero pay increase while average inflation has rocketed to over 12%.
Holding discussions at the very last moment, despite being warned of strike action well in advance, clearly shows that the Scottish Government and COSLA have little respect not only for teachers but for parents and carers who need to organise child care and for pupils whose education is being disrupted by this infantile Government intransigence.
EIS teachers’ rally outside West Dunbartonshire Council offices in Dumbarton.
Incredibly, according to an Audit Commission report, the Scottish Government has under-spent on last year’s budget by £2 billion.
That was a deliberate political choice and one that has profound implications for our public services. If the Scottish Government is serious about protecting our public services and valuing public sector workers, they must commit to funding our public services properly and paying our public sector workers fairly.
If the Scottish Government and COSLA fail to make a credible pay offer to our teachers then teaching will have even greater recruitment and retention challenges than those that we face now.
We simply will not be able to recruit enough graduates into the profession and we will lose experienced teachers who will seek greater financial reward for their skills and qualifications elsewhere.
Both of these impacts will result in a loss to children and young people’s education, and will compound workload issues for those who do join and remain in the profession.
Decent pay can stop this.