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Teaching union launches preliminary ballot over pay and strike action

A teaching union is launching a preliminary electronic ballot on strike action over pay and funding.

The National Education Union (NEU), the UK’s largest teaching union, will consult 300,000 members working in maintained schools and sixth forms across England on whether they are prepared to take part in industrial action to win funding from Government for pay and additional staffing resources.

The preliminary ballot opens on Saturday and closes on March 28.

The questions are:

– Do you agree that you should receive an above-inflation pay rise for 2024/25?

– Would you vote “yes” to strike action for a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise that constitutes a meaningful step towards a long-term correction in pay, and further funding to provide improved levels of staffing provision in schools, colleges and education services?

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) take part in a rally through Westminster to Parliament Square, London.
Members of the National Education Union take part in a rally through Westminster (James Manning/PA)

Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the NEU, said: “Gillian Keegan’s approach to this year’s pay review is nothing short of insulting.

“Having promised a timelier process for 2023/24, she has done nothing but delay. Her remit letter to the School Teachers’ Review Body was weeks late, and she also missed the deadline for evidence.

“There is no reason to suppose the Education Secretary has changed her tune since last year.

“There is every indication the Government will be unwilling to offer more than 1-2% in the next pay round, so we are putting our members on alert that action may be necessary to ensure a proper pay and funding offer for teachers. Rather than allow the Government to undo the gains of last year, the NEU will seek to push forward in its campaign for a long-term correction on pay.

“We believe that the case for additional funding for pay and staffing provision is clear and obvious. Fair pay is not just a request but a necessity.

“Schools deserve proper funding for staffing provision – and also so that schools have the necessary funding to cover a pay rise.

“Real-terms pay cuts have been central to many of the issues blighting schools and colleges. It affects recruitment, with Government unable to meet its training targets year on year.

“We also see teachers leaving in droves, and too many are leaving just a handful of years after qualifying. And as the updated School Cuts website shows, 70% of schools have lost funding since 2010.

“School and college leaders have been making ends meet for too long. The Treasury’s attempts to cut corners by not fully funding pay awards makes it even harder for heads to balance the books.

“Last year members stood together and won new money for schools including a funded settlement on teacher pay. Gillian Keegan should be aware that our members will not sit back and accept an unfunded, below-inflation pay rise.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It’s disappointing that the NEU are considering strike action before the independent pay process is completed. This will only disrupt children’s education, which has already been impacted by strike action last year as well as the pandemic.

“Last year we delivered on the manifesto commitment to give every new teacher a starting salary of at least £30,000 – alongside the highest pay award for teachers in over 30 years.

“We have recently published our evidence to the independent pay review body to inform their recommendations for teacher’s pay for 2024/25. We’ll respond to their recommendations through the established process.”