Teachers should be valued “through their pay packet”, says Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws.
Mr Laws told the National Association of Head Teachers it was “time to end the period of real pay cuts” for public sector staff.
He said the Lib Dems would “draw a line in the sand” on public sector pay in any post-election negotiations.
NAHT leader Russell Hobby has warned whoever is in office to expect to hear “there is still no money”.
Mr Laws, addressing the annual conference of the NAHT in Liverpool, promised that a coalition including the Liberal Democrats would increase teachers’ pay from 2017.
“We will show teachers that we value you through your pay packet,” he said.
“Austerity has been tough and public sector workers have made a significant contribution to balancing the books and rebuilding the economy.
“So, as we return to economic growth, from next year onwards, it’s time to end the period of real pay cuts.”
Policy guide: Education
This election issue includes funding for schools, university tuition fees and early years education.
Mr Laws repeated his party’s commitment to protect the education budget – arguing that this was a more watertight assurance than the promises of either Labour or the Conservatives, because it took into account both the rising number of pupils and the need for spending to rise with inflation.
“Neither the Labour party nor the Conservatives are prepared to put the money where their mouth is on education,” said Mr Laws.
And he said that creating an independent standards authority to decide on the curriculum would end the problem of excessive political interference.
“It’s not up to us to determine which exact works of literature or periods of history are taught,” he said.
His experience as schools minister had made him “believe even more strongly that government interferes too much and too regularly in our school system”.
“It should never ever be a case of us and them, politicians versus the profession.
“A culture of criticising teachers, often for nothing more than cheap headlines, is a lose-lose situation for everyone – particularly for the children passing through the education system.”
Labour has campaigned on stopping academy and free schools from employing teachers without teaching qualifications – and Mr Laws said that the Liberal Democrats would also make it a requirement for teachers to have qualified teacher status.
He also said that Ofsted should be able to inspect the groups running academy chains, a move that has been opposed by their Conservative former coalition partners.
Speaking to the head teachers’ conference on Friday, Labour’s Tristram Hunt warned of the importance of protecting funding for early years education and claimed that 750 Sure Start centres had been forced to shut.
In response to the speech from Mr Laws, Mr Hunt said: “You can’t trust a word the Liberal Democrats say. They broke their promise on tuition fees and people will not believe a word that they say on education spending.”
‘Expect tight budgets’
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has argued that the Conservatives will protect spending on education, expand the number of academies and raise standards.
A future Conservative government is promising to introduce a new re-sit test in secondary school for 100,000 pupils who get poor results in English and maths tests at the end of primary school.
The NAHT’s Russell Hobby has warned that schools face a looming funding shortage and increasing difficulty in recruiting teachers and school leaders. He has also warned that schools now have to do much work that would usually be associated with social services, such as feeding and clothing children.
“What do the next five years hold for us? What do we expect and what will we do? Much that we face will happen whoever gains power,” said Mr Hobby.
“To paraphrase a famous note, there is still no money. We are merely halfway through austerity and half a million more pupils are coming our way. Expect tight budgets and make every penny count.”
Teachers’ pay: Lib Dems’ David Laws calls for teacher pay rise
Posted in Global Education News