Further teachers’ strikes are now “inevitable”, a union has said, after a meeting with the Department for Education did not result in a new pay offer for its members.
Teachers are set to stage walkouts in England later this month and into March in a dispute over pay and working conditions.
Union bosses met Education Secretary Gillian Keegan in Whitehall on Wednesday to hold talks, but have now revealed they did not result in any additional offers.
Speaking after the meeting, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said “the tone of today’s talks signalled a greater sense of urgency on the part of the government” – but without additional money on the table, industrial action would continue.
He added: “We cannot go on like this. Unless there is tangible progress towards an improved offer, the prospect of further strike action… is inevitable and will lead to members of our union, and other education unions, also concluding that industrial action is the only option left.”
Regional strikes in England are due to take place by National Education Union (NEU) members on 28 February, 1 March and 2 March, with national strikes in England and Wales planned for 15 March and 16 March.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the latest meeting with Ms Keegan had a “better tone” than previous talks, but there was “no movement” from the government. “In terms of actual outcomes, the meeting was disappointing,” he added.
Union leaders did not rule out future talks with Ms Keegan and the education department, but no date has been set.
Mr Courtney apologised to parents and carers, saying: “We do not want to take strike action. We want the government to move.
“But the further talks that are being discussed don’t look like they will discuss the question of this year’s pay or even give us a number about next year’s pay.
“They are unlikely to be able to move it if the talks aren’t about a wider agenda than is currently scheduled.”
Sky News has contacted the department for a response.
Pay offers from devolved governments
The NEU suspended its planned strike in Wales this week after receiving an offer from the Welsh government of an extra 1.5% on top of this year’s 5% pay award, as well as a 1.5% one-off payment.
But members today rejected the offer, so further strikes in March are set to go ahead.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Scottish government revised its pay offer for teachers, which would see all staff earning up to £80,000 receive a 6% increase from 1 April 2022 and 5.5% from 1 April 2023.
Those earning in excess of £80,000 would receive £4,800 for 2022/23 and £4,400 for 2023/24.