Talks must deal with current year’s pay rise, says teaching union chief

A teaching union leader has warned that talks with the government will not resolve a dispute over pay if they deal only with this year’s settlement.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) welcomed the chance to meet Education Secretary Gillian Keegan on Monday, but said only an hour had been set aside for the talks.

“You cannot negotiate anything in an hour,” she told the PA news agency.

She made it clear the unions wanted to discuss the current year’s pay rise, which has led to a series of ballots for strikes.

The NEU, school leaders union NAHT and the NASUWT will all be announcing the ballot results in the coming week.

Ministers are keen to focus on this year’s evidence to pay review bodies in education and the NHS, but unions are pressing for an immediate wage rise.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There are no great schools without great teachers which is why we are making the highest pay awards in a generation – 5% for experienced teachers and more for those early in their careers, including an 8.9% increase to starting salary.

“We are also investing an additional £2 billion in schools next year and £2 billion the year after, taking school funding to its highest ever level.

“After two years of disrupted education for young people, strike action is simply not a reasonable solution.

“Union leaders have been invited to meet with ministers on Monday to have honest conversations about what is responsible and what is affordable for our country when it comes to pay.”

The department will soon be publishing updated guidance for schools and teachers on what to do in the event of industrial action.