Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told MPs she takes the body’s recommendations ‘very seriously’ as Labour pressed her on the issue in the Commons.
Labour has called on the Government to publish the School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB) pay recommendations amid plans by education unions for renewed strike action.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told MPs she takes the body’s recommendations “very seriously” as Labour pressed her on the issue in the Commons.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “We were all reminded today that the Secretary of State is already keen to move on. Yet parents know that it is her ongoing failure to resolve these disputes that is damaging our children’s education.
“She told us to wait for the independent pay review body’s recommendations. Those recommendations have been made and now she refuses to publish them.
“Will she come clean, allow headteachers to plan for September, and publish the recommendations today?”
Ms Keegan replied: “I have no intention of moving on,” adding, “This is the same process that we go through every year. I do take the independent teachers’ review body very seriously.”
She said she has previously secured extra funding to meet the body’s recommendations, adding: “We are considering the recommendations. We will publish it … and we will publish it in the same sort of timeframes as we usually do.”
The Government has offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year (2022/23) and an average 4.5% rise for staff next year.
But all four education unions rejected the offer and are planning renewed strike action in the autumn.
Speaking in the Commons, Conservative former education minister Jonathan Gullis said teachers should be given a 6.5% pay rise if that is what the independent review body has recommended, but it should be paid for out of the foreign aid budget.
He said: “If the STRB (School Teachers’ Review Body) has recommended … that a teacher should get a 6.5% pay rise, then they should be given that 6.5% pay rise.
“The minister will rightly say where is that money coming from. I’ll say let’s take that money out the foreign aid budget year-in, year-out.”
Ms Keegan said: “Following the union’s rejection of the Government’s fair and reasonable and funded offer, the report has been submitted by the independent (STRB) and I won’t comment on speculation or leaks, or indeed funding.
“We will consider the recommendations and publish our response in due course.”
Labour also called on the Education Secretary to devolve adult education budgets to the local communities and to directly elected mayors.
Shadow education minister Toby Perkins said: “The Secretary of State says she’s listening to businesses, but if she did she would be hearing that Labour’s plan to devolve adult education budgets to the local communities, to directly elected mayors and to change the apprenticeship levy into a more flexible growth and skills levy have won widespread support from across the business community.
“So why is she so determined to stand against what employers say they want and hold learners, employers and our economy back?”
Ms Keegan replied: “It’s a good question because you’re right, employers often have asked for this flexibility in the levy and, of course, my support for apprenticeships, I don’t think anybody in this House doubts.
“It was my golden ticket and I am convinced that it is a very good way into the workplace.
“So Labour have said that they want to build flexibilities into the levy. The problem with (Labour’s) calculations is right at this moment we are spending 99.6% of the levy on apprentices.
“(Labour’s) policy is based on levy payer spend, not levy payer budget, and that means the biggest losers with (Labour’s) policy will be small and medium-sized businesses, and about half of current apprentices.”