The Association of School and College Leaders, for the first time in its history, will hold a formal ballot for national strike action in England over the school funding crisis, the erosion of teacher and leader pay and conditions, and consequent staff shortages which are undermining the education system.
The association has endeavoured to resolve the matter through negotiation but the government made an offer to settle the dispute in March which was completely inadequate and was rejected by 87% of eligible members on a turnout of 56%.
Late yesterday afternoon, ASCL’s Executive Committee of senior elected members met to discuss next steps and unanimously decided to move to a formal ballot on strike action. The ballot will be held during the summer term at a date yet to be decided and, if members vote for strike action, we expect that this would take place during the autumn term.
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “ASCL has never before formally balloted at a national level and this is clearly a very significant step. The fact that we have reached this point reflects the desperate situation regarding inadequate funding, long-term pay erosion, teacher shortages, and the intransigence of a government which we can only conclude does not value the education workforce or recognise the severe pressures facing the sector.
“We have made every effort to resolve this matter through negotiations prior to reaching this point. Unfortunately, the government’s offer has failed to sufficiently address pay and conditions, and, critically, did not provide enough funding for even the meagre proposal it put forward. Following the rejection of the offer by all education unions involved – ASCL, NAHT, NEU and NASUWT – the government has made no effort to reopen negotiations and has said only that the issue of pay will now revert to the School Teachers’ Review Body.
“The conclusion of the Executive Committee is that the government has left us with no option other than to conduct a formal ballot for national strike action.
“This action is taken as a last resort and with a heavy heart, but we cannot accept the continued damage to education caused by government neglect and complacency.”