West Devon teachers have explained why they have voted to strike again after rejecting the latest government pay offer.
Teachers are planning to strike again for two days across England during the summer term, after members of the UK's largest education union - the National Education Union (NEU) - rejected the pay offer. The results of their ballot found that 98% of NEU members were in favour of turning the deal down.
Strike action, which might hit West Devon classrooms, will take place on Thursday, April 27 and Tuesday, May 2 but the NEU says exam classes will not be interrupted.
Mike Gurney, Devon NEU Joint Secretary and Okehampton College NEU representative, said: 'Teachers in the NEU have voted overwhelmingly against the government's proposed pay offer. It is a terrible offer - it offers a one-off payment which will not improve pay or tackle the crisis in schools over the recruitment and retention of staff.
'Even worse is the fact that the Government offered virtually no extra funding. School budgets are already very stretched and to expect schools to find 4% for teachers pay from existing budgets will just lead to more cuts and redundancies. In less than a week over two thirds of NEU members voted and 98% voted to reject the offer.
'The government has completely misread the mood of teachers. We have set further strike dates but hope that the Government will see the strength of feeling and negotiate in good faith with us. If we are forced to take action we appreciate that these are important times for pupils taking exams and will seek to protect the education of Year 11 and Year 13 students taking GCSEs and A levels on those days. Discussions with headteachers locally over how to do that have already started. '
Speaking at the NEU conference in Harrogate, Joint General Secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said the offer was 'unacceptable', 'is not fully funded' and it did not deal with the shortage of teachers in schools.
In a ballot over the government's pay offer, 191,319 NEU members voted to reject the deal with a 66% turnout.
Teachers were offered a £1,000 one-off payment this year, and a 4.3% rise next year. Starting salaries would also rise to £30,000 from September.
The NEU consultative ballot on the Government's pay offer has been rejected by an overwhelming 98% of NEU teacher members in England on a turnout of 66%.191,319 serving teachers in state schools in England have voted to reject Gillian Keegan's offer in less than six days.It is not surprising that the offer has been rejected. The offer was not fully funded, would have meant teachers in England would see their pay fall even further behind their counterparts in Wales and Scotland and it would represent another two years of real-terms pay cuts. It would do nothing to reverse the problems of recruitment and retention in our schools.
Commenting on the result, NEU South West Regional Secretary Hannah Packham, said: 'This resounding rejection of the Government's offer should leave Gillian Keegan in no doubt that she will need to come back to the negotiating table with a much better proposal.
'The offer shows an astounding lack of judgement and understanding of the desperate situation in the education system.
We have today written to the education secretary informing her of the next two days of strike action on 27 April and 2 May that NEU teacher members in England will now be taking.
'These strikes are more than three weeks away; Gillian Keegan can avoid them. No teacher wants to be on strike. Nor can they accept this offer that does nothing to address the decades of below inflation pay increases making them the worst paid teachers in the UK. The offer will do nothing to stem the teacher recruitment and retention crisis which is so damaging to our children and young people's education.
'The education secretary has united the profession in its outrage at this insulting pay offer. It is now for her to rectify that situation by starting to value education. The NEU is ready as we have stated all along to negotiate with ministers, but this time we hope a lesson has been learnt. Gillian Keegan needs to start negotiations with respect for the profession she is supposedly representing in Government.
'To parents we say that we have no wish to disrupt education, indeed our action is aimed at getting the government to invest in the education of this generation of children and the people who teach them."We are asking our school reps to plan with head teachers to ensure that year 11 and year 13 students have a full programme of education on the upcoming strike days.'
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said if the deal was rejected, the £1,000 payment for this year would be lost and the decision will now be passed back to the pay-review body. It previously recommended a 3% rise from September 2023.
Mary Bousted confirmed plans to support GCSE and A-level students during the upcoming strike days and she said they have been speaking to head teachers to make sure they are in class for exam preparations.
The union is calling on ministers to reopen negotiations on pay.