NAHT union national secretary Rob Kelsall has warned of a growing recruitment and retention crisis in the education sector – and called on the States to invest in teachers in the wake of what he said was a real-terms pay cut over the past decade.
‘The pay anniversary date is 1 January and here we are in April. Essentially this is the first meeting to discuss the pay and reward for dedicated public servants,’ he said.
‘It has taken quite a lot of pressure from the trade unions to get this meeting under way. It is long awaited and we hope that when we meet with the States of Guernsey, they will be able to table an offer to increase the pay levels for dedicated public servants – and recognise the heroic efforts of teachers and schools leaders over the last two years across the pandemic.’
Mr Kelsall added that Jersey's States had awarded a 2.9% increase, plus a one-off payment in recognition of the extraordinary workload and stress that education staff had faced during the Covid pandemic, in its most recent pay settlement.
‘We hope the States of Guernsey do likewise,’ he said.
‘We met with head teachers in Guernsey earlier this week, many of whom were on their knees with the pressures and demands placed upon them by the ongoing global pandemic, and feeling that they were unsupported and left to get on with it despite the unprecedented workload and stress of trying to keep schools open and safe.
‘Layered on top of that is a growing recruitment and retention crisis with many heads struggling to cover vacancies and staff absence due to Covid.’
It was the case that pay had been cut in real terms over the last decade which was adding to the issues.
‘We continue to make the case to government that if we want to have a truly world-class education service then you have to invest in head teachers and teachers to deliver this.
‘Children’s futures and life chances are driven by having well-rewarded and well-motivated leaders and teachers in the classrooms,’ said Mr Kelsall.
The NASUWT union has also called for a significant above-inflation pay rise for teachers, lecturers and school leaders or face the risk of industrial unrest.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: ‘We have submitted a detailed pay claim demonstrating why teachers in Guernsey need a substantial above-inflation pay award.
‘We will be engaging in the pay talks and making the strongest case possible for investment in teachers’ pay to ensure Guernsey can continue to recruit and retain the teachers it needs in future.’
In relation to the NASUWT’s pay claim, a P&R spokesman confirmed that the committee was aware of the issues being raised by the union.