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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Roe

Ripping up nationally agreed terms and conditions isn’t a ‘freedom’

This piece is written by Beccy Meilhan Thrive’s People Development Lead, and is the fourth in a series that shines a light on the Thrive Teacher Workload Charter.  Along with our headteacher team, we have devised 11 statements that will help manage workload so that great teachers still have the energy to be great family members and great friends.

Why follow nationally agreed terms and conditions?

A multi-academy Trust can rip up nationally agreed terms and conditions and set their own, but like most school trusts we have chosen not to do this.  Thrive follows the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), and the Burgundy Book, these determine terms and conditions such as sick pay for all staff.  We choose to follow these national arrangements for two reasons.  Firstly, they promote coherence and challenge the fracturing of the educational landscape.  Secondly, they provide a clear, consistent and transparent approach to pay and terms and conditions.  Staff have a very clear understanding of what they may expect from Thrive.

Each year the STPCD is agreed upon, having been through several layers of union and government negotiation. STPCD, among other things, details the pay award. This often lengthy process can result in the pay award for teachers being delayed. Unfortunately, and precisely because we follow the nationally agreed position, this delay is out of our control.  This year there is the added complication of the General Election.  The School Teachers Review Body sent their recommendations to the Secretary of State, but she sat on these, then the election was called, and now no announcement will made on the teacher pay award until after July 4th.  This is making school budget setting very difficult.   We will get news to colleagues as soon as we have it … watch this space.

The STPCD guides our Pay Policy.   It describes the pay ranges for teachers across all career stages, along with guiding the Trust on Teaching and Learning Responsibility points and headteacher group bandings.  By committing to this document we are open, transparent and fair in our pay offer.  When a school with a different approach joins Thrive, we inherit this approach via the TUPE process, which may need to be reworked through consultation with unions and colleagues.

Working with Trade Union colleagues

We actively encourage all colleagues to be members of a trade union and we work proactively with trade union colleagues.  Trade unions are member-led organisations that protect and promote workers’ rights.  We pay into a pot of money held by the LA called the Trade Union Facilities Levy which allows trade unions to employ staff who can be made available to support colleagues and ourselves should a dispute arise.  In the last year, unions have supported colleagues when we have had to question their performance, or conduct, or when a colleague raises a complaint or grievance.  If you have not joined a trade union you can find out how to join here.


We have scheduled meetings with union colleagues four times a year in a forum called the JCC (Joint Consultative Committee), currently chaired by Thrive trustee Andrew Smith.  Attendees include Jonathan Roe (CEO), Beccy Meilhan (People Lead), and representatives of NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, ASCL, Unison, and GMB. Andrew does a super job of keeping the meeting on track as Jonathan tends to overrun on his trust update because we have lots of positive news to share.  We consult and agree on trust policy, union matters they wish to raise with us (either for celebration or areas in which it is felt we need to improve).  We also give scrutiny to equalities data, staff voice and health and safety. The meetings are always honest and open; we greatly value the professional relationships we have with our union colleagues. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree, and when we disagree we do so agreeably!


A regular topic of discussion at JCC is the 1265 directed time calendar for teaching staff.  Each summer term union colleagues are keen to review each school and leaders are happy to share, which often leads to further discussions, tweaks, and amendments.  Once the 1265 calculation is agreed it can be shared with colleagues.

So as a school trust we see the value of solidarity with schools right across the country via STPCD and the Burgundy Book, and we closely value the working relationship we have with union colleagues. This reassures staff that their working Ts&Cs are grounded on nationally agreed thinking and negotiation.

In summary

  • Thrive values the solidarity that comes from adopting the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document and the Burgundy Book.

  • We work in close partnership with recognised trade unions.

  • We follow the concept of 1265 hours of directed time and are transparent about how it is calculated.


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