Teachers threaten national strikes if government fails to respond to pay demands

Teachers will ballot for a national campaign of strike action if the government does not listen to their proposals for a “new start” for teachers’ pay.

Eleanor Busby

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Teachers will ballot for a national campaign of strike action if the government does not listen to their proposals for a “new start” for teachers’ pay

Delegates at the NUT teaching union's annual conference in Brighton agreed that the government’s treatment of teachers’ pay had “enormously damaged” the morale of teaching and intensified the recruitment and retention crisis.

They a backed motion noting that some schools are holding “increasing numbers back at salaries well below those that all teachers could previously expect to achieve".

Academy chains, schools and local authorities who produce "unreasonable and unfair” pay policies are now to be named and shamed by the NUT. 

The union is calling on the government to:

  • End the current pay freeze
  • Restore mandatory pay scales
  • End to performance-related pay
  • Restore national pay bargaining
  • To introduce a combination of a living wage and affordable housing allowing teachers to live in London

This morning's motion said that “if no progress is made in talks with the government on agreeing and implementing these proposals” then they will consider a ballot for a national campaign of strike and non-strike action “when there is the necessary support”.

An amendment, passed by conference, added that many schools use delays in their performance management process as a reason for withholding pay progression for teachers. 

In some schools, teachers are not receiving pay increases that they previously would have automatically received in September until March or beyond, conference heard. 

NUT delegates voted in favour of giving full backing to members in schools withholding pay progression “up to and including strike action”. 

Following the debate, Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “Schools are already finding it impossible to attract staff, vacancies remain unfilled, and teachers are having to take classes for which they do not have the subject specialisation.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "It's a shame the NUT has chosen to threaten more unnecessary strike action rather than working constructively with the government to address teachers' concerns.

“As part of our drive to achieve educational excellence everywhere, we want all schools to be able to recruit high quality teachers and continue raising the profession’s status. That’s why we’re investing hundreds of millions in teacher recruitment, offering generous bursaries and scholarships in STEM subjects, plus backing schemes like Teach First and the National Teaching Service to get great teachers where they’re most needed.

"We are committed to the development of a school-led system where improvement is driven from within – that’s why we have given schools the freedom to recruit, train and develop teachers and leaders the freedom over pay to reward their most effective staff.”​


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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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