Schools in England faced another round of strikes as teachers from the National Education Union rejected the government’s pay offer. The one-off payment of £1000 this year and an average pay rise of 4.5 percent in the next financial year were rejected by 98 percent of the teachers. The offer also included the establishment of a new task force to reduce teacher workload. In response, the trade union has announced another two days of walkouts on April 27th and May 2nd.
According to Mary Bousted, the union’s joint general secretary, the government offered better deals that resolved disputes in other countries in the UK, like Wales and Scotland. Unions in Scotland accepted a pay increase of more than 14 percent for the majority of its teachers. In Wales, the par rise was 3% for the current school year, followed by a 5 percent increase for 2023-24.
“We are saying to you that you need to make a better offer because this dispute is not going away,” said Kevin Courtney, the NEU’s joint general secretary.
Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, was “extremely disappointed” by the NEU and has refused further negotiations until the Department for Education received pay recommendations for 2023-24 from the independent School Teachers’ Review Body. “The NEU’s decision to reject it will result in more disruption for children and less money for teachers today.
Students begin A-level and GCSE exams on May 15th while the strikes mount increasing pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to resolve the issue.
While the union means no harm to students' educations, they want the government to invest more in the education sector, particularly those who teach. “We are asking our school reps to plan with headteachers to ensure that year 11 and year 13 students have a full education program on the upcoming strike days,” said Bousted.
The rejection of the offer is a setback as the education minister spent six days negotiating last month. She said the proposal would be lost if rejected and that the government did not intend to negotiate further. She further added that the decision for pay raises would be made by the independent pay review body next year.
Edited by: Ashleyn Wagner
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