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Recruitment and retention

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School leaders are driven by an ambition to provide opportunities for young people to reach their full potential. To fulfil that ambition, teaching must attract and retain a high-quality, well-trained and properly rewarded workforce. 

Through our work with members, NAHT is documenting and communicating the unfolding recruitment and retention crisis taking place in our schools to policymakers at the highest levels. 

NAHT is campaigning to:

Ensure all schools can recruit and retain excellent teachers and leaders

  • Lobby for change and reform of key macro issues affecting recruitment and retention: pay, accountability, funding and workload and identify key actions to be taken to improve these
  • Press for the development of a range of flexible leadership and non-leadership pathways to support recruitment and retention, including new opportunities that will retain the experience and expertise of mid to late career leaders
  • Build on the opportunities offered by the Early Career Framework to press for similar support for new heads, deputies and assistants, and school business leaders
  • Maintain a watching brief on the impact of Brexit on teacher supply
  • Lobby the DfE for practical measures to address the workload of school leaders, including protection of strategic leadership time
  • Campaign for a staged real term, restorative pay award for teachers and school leaders
  • Develop a position on the role of CEOs and other posts outside the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) including a position on which roles should have a requirement for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
  • Lobby for a review of the pay system, including the STPCD
  • Press government to maintain and enhance the teacher's pension scheme and/or Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)
  • Support work to ensure the profession represents a diverse workforce, including those with protected characteristics
  • Support effective partnerships between school leaders and governors with clarity of roles and responsibilities across different school structures.

Create a safe working environment for school leaders and their staff

  • Lobby the DfE to take concrete steps to tackle verbal and physical abuse and aggression against school staff, including harassment online and through social media.  

Ensure professional recognition of school business leaders (SBLs)

  • Lobby the DfE for SBLs to be included within a new national framework of terms and conditions for school staff
  • Promote the professional standards framework for all SBLs
  • Raise the profile and understanding of the SBL role across the school sector, including with governors.  


Support staff pay award 2021/22

Update: March 2022

An agreement has now been reached on the support staff pay award for 2021/22, for a 1.75% uplift backdated to 1 April 2021.

A joint circular has been signed by UNISON and GMB asking employers to implement the final pay offer.

Update: January 2022

The results from the UNISON ballot are now in. Although there was strong support in favour of strike action (70%), the turnout was low (14.5%) and therefore they will not be undertaking any formal action. An indicative ballot undertaken by GMB resulted in a similar position.

The Unite ballots are still underway. 

Update: December 2021

The unions have rejected the National Employers’ full and final one-year pay offer and have confirmed the timetable for industrial action ballots.

UNISON will conduct a formal ballot 1 December to 14 January. Unite's runs 14 January to 17 February (24 February in Northern Ireland). GMB is conducting a consultative ballot (closes 13 December).

Update: October 2021​

The National Employers have re-met to consider the unions’ request to reopen the 2021/22 support staff pay negotiations.

During September, all three recognised unions consulted their memberships with a recommendation to reject the final offer. UNISON members voted 79% to 21% to reject; GMB members voted 75% to 25% to reject; and Unite voted 81% to 19% to reject. The unions are all now preparing to conduct industrial action ballots.

The employers have agreed that the pay offer made in July is full and final.  The pay offer for 2021 continues to stand as:

With effect from 1 April 2021, an increase of 2.75% on NJC pay point 1
With effect from 1 April 2021, an increase of 1.75% on all NJC pay points 2 and above
Completion of the outstanding work of the joint Term-Time Only review group
A national minimum agreement on homeworking policies for all councils.

Update: September 2021

The three local government unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite) have confirmed that their consultation ballots on the final pay offer will run through to late September/early October. All three unions will be recommending the pay offer(s) be rejected.

Update: July 2021

The National Employers made an improved, final pay offer to the unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite) currently negotiating for the local government National Joint Council (NJC) workforce. The offer is:

  • With effect from 1 April 2021, an increase of 2.75% on NJC pay point 1
  • With effect from 1 April 2021, an increase of 1.75% on all NJC pay points 2 and above
  • Completion of the outstanding work of the joint term-time only review group
Alongside this, the National Employers confirmed they would like to continue discussions on the three additional elements of the unions' claim, as outlined below.

Update: May 2021

The National Employers have submitted an offer of 1.50% on all pay points with effect from 1 April 2021, along with proposals that the NJC begins immediate exploratory discussions on three other elements of the unions' claim:
  • A national minimum agreement on homeworking policies for all councils
  • An agreement on a best practice national programme of mental health support for all local authorities and school staff
  • A joint review of the provisions in the Green Book for maternity/paternity/shared parental/adoption leave
  • Following discussions, the Unions decided to reject this offer.


As of February 2021 the support staff unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite) were in negotiations with local government employers over the pay and conditions offer for local government support staff for 2021/22. The original claim called for:
  • A substantial increase with a minimum of 10% on all spinal column points
  • A joint review of job descriptions, routes for career developments and pay banding for school support staff, and completion of the outstanding work of the joint term-time only review group
  • Introduction of a homeworking allowance for all staff who are working from home
  • A reduction of the working week to 35 hours with no loss of pay, and a reduction to 34 hours a week in London
  • A minimum of 25 days annual leave, plus public holidays and statutory days, for all starting employees, plus an extra day holiday on all other holiday rates that depend on service
  • An agreement on a best practice national programme of mental health support for all local authorities
  • A joint review of the provisions in the Green Book for maternity / paternity / shared parental /adoption leave
Following the claim we reached out to our SBL members to gather views on this claim in order to support our informal discussions with the representative unions.

NAHT's view

We do not believe that the current local government pay scales offer enough flexibility to recognise the status and seniority of an SBL role, nor do they take account of the growth in the scope and responsibility of school business leaders' roles over recent years. We are therefore pleased to see the request for a review of job descriptions and pay bandings for support staff, which could be a positive step forward in improving the situation. 
However, we are clear that in the long term there should be a national framework that defines the roles and sets out the pay and conditions of all those employed in a national, publicly funded education system, including school business leaders. We have repeatedly and extensively made this case to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), including in our latest work, which you can find here.
We continue to call for a significant pay increase for all teachers and leaders, including school business leaders, which is fully funded by the government. In the interim, NAHT has developed member advice around school business leader pay and grading, to support individuals with their personal circumstances, and offers support to individual members with their cases for pay reviews.
First published 10 March 2022