ATL will fight vigorously to defend teachers at independent schools who have had pay frozen


Independent school staff are feeling the effects of the economic downturn in their pockets, with over one in three teachers (36%) and four in ten (40%) non-academic and support staff not getting a cost of living pay rise in 2011.

A further one in five (19% of teachers and 23% of non-academic and support staff) had a pay rise of no more than one per cent, according to the latest figures from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

General secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “The majority of staff in independent schools are feeling the full pain of a pay freeze or a well below inflation increase. But despite this many are being expected to work longer hours and take on more duties.  While it is understandable that schools need to keep their costs down in the current economic climate, it is not acceptable for any to use it as an excuse to exploit their staff. We will vigorously fight to defend members interests in any schools where we find out this is happening.”

The freeze in staff pay occurred despite over a quarter of teachers saying their schools had increased school fees by two per cent or more and one in ten saying school fees were up by over four per cent, with fee rises of two to three per cent being most common.

A teacher in Hertfordshire said: “I do not expect a pay rise for the next two or three years.”

A teacher in Edinburgh said: “Despite working with more pupils and increased admin, we have had no increase.  I have never known such discontent among staff in Scotland.”

A nursery nurse in England said: “Pay for all staff has been frozen for the last three years.  No one has been told if, or when, staff may next have a pay rise other than ‘salaries for all staff will be reviewed when there is an upturn in the school’s finances.”

The fortune of independent schools continues to be mixed.  While some schools are struggling as a result of falling pupil numbers, others are thriving and expanding.  Responding to ATL’s annual independent schools survey, released at ATL’s annual independent schools conference, just over a third of teachers reported higher pupil numbers in their school, and nearly another third said numbers were the same number as last September.  Just over a quarter of teachers said their school had fewer pupils this September.

A teacher said:  “Where some local independent schools have been forced to close we have been fortunate to benefit and take some of these girls and so are keeping our numbers high.”

A teacher in Manchester said:  “As an exceptionally good value for money school our number of applicants is up and we are faring well.”

While another teacher said:  “Fewer acceptances due to competition from good local grammar schools and parents less willing to commit to £10,000 plus a year in the current climate.”

A teacher in Lancashire said:  “We are a boarding school and we certainly seem to be recruiting fewer pupils from within the UK and Europe, but more from Nigeria.”

Forty-six per cent of teachers said their schools had cut spending in the 2010/11 academic year, and the same percentage expected their school to reduce spending in the current school year.  These figures are similar to responses last year when 47 per cent said their school had cut spending during the school year and 48 per cent forecast a cut in 2010/11.

A school leader said:  “Financial constraints meant when a member of the leadership team left they were not replaced – and we are all doing extra work to cover it – very long hours are now almost impossible hours.”

The majority of teachers (44 per cent) said their school has not reduced the number of teachers, however, over a fifth of teachers said their school had fewer teaching staff.  Thirty per cent of non-academic and support staff report their numbers are the same in this school year as last, but a fifth say their school has fewer.

Looking ahead, teachers are optimistic about staffing this year, with two in three saying they do not expect any redundancies in their school.  Non-academic and support staff are slightly less optimistic, with 45 per cent saying they do not expect any redundancies.

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