The SSTA conducted a Consultative Ballot of its members on the latest pay offer from COSLA. The ballot closed at noon today with 76% of SSTA members making a response. The latest pay offer was a 3% increase from April 2018 with a further 3% from January 2019. This would be followed by a 3% increase in April 2019 and April 2020.

64% of SSTA members voted to accept the latest teacher pay offer with more than a third of members prepared to take strike action to seek an improved offer.

Seamus Searson SSTA General Secretary said “The Government must not see this decision as a boost to teacher morale as many members were voting to get a pay rise that has been long overdue. Members are equally unhappy with a 3 year deal and are insisting on a reopener clause for 2020 so that teachers’ salaries are not allowed to deteriorate. Members are demanding urgent efforts to address teacher workload and support in dealing with pupil behaviour”.

“The SSTA welcomes the measures to improve salaries for those entering the profession but has real a concern that this offer is going to do little to encourage teachers to remain in the profession. The Government must accept there is much more to be done in the battle of teacher retention. The large number of teachers who were prepared to take strike action to improve teachers’ pay shows the level of frustration and must not be ignored”.

Kevin Campbell, SSTA President said “I would like to thank all members for taking part in the ballot. A 76% return is a tremendous achievement. Looking at the responses from members it is clear there is a great reluctance amongst members to accept the offer but many teachers are desperate for a pay rise. Despite this pay offer there is still a great deal of teacher unhappiness in our schools. We need to move quickly in tackling teacher workload and reinvesting in measures to tackle the increasing problem of pupil behaviour”.

Members were invited to make comment on the offer and a small sample has been included below.

“On paper the offer looks good but our working conditions/expectations have caused many to become very stressed and workloads have increased massively without any significant monetary reward for many years, and the hours which many of us are putting in every week is horrific”.

“Whatever the outcome of the ballot it is imperative that negotiations continue regarding workload and teacher retention. There is a lot of focus on attracting teachers to the profession, but for me the bigger issue is in retaining the excellent practitioners who already do a fantastic job”.

“I’m reluctant to accept but I don’t see how we will get anything better at this point”.

“It's ridiculous that we have had to fight for this for so long. It's not a great deal but I think it's the best we will get without losing public support”.

“This is not about the salary. What I actually want this all to be focused on is pupil behaviour and conditions in teaching. I am in my 10th year of teaching, and behaviour in schools has degraded so much in the last few years that we are no longer a teaching profession, but instead becoming a babysitting service for pupils”.

“I don't believe the offer addresses the recruitment and retention crisis, I have no confidence in management's intent to deal with workload issues”,

“I believe that this offer is well below what is acceptable. The headline of 9% is for 2 years not one and is misleading”.

“I genuinely feel extremely torn by the offer. I am very worried about the impact of Brexit & accepting the pay deal for a year when we have no clue what state of play the economy will be in if & when Brexit goes through! In addition to this I am still extremely concerned about the workload issues that teachers face & the fact that there has been very little done to address this”.

“The (new) three Rs': Retention; Recruitment; Respect”