The National Education Union has confirmed its strike action tomorrow and Thursday in support of its pay and school funding campaign - including a picket line at Okehampton College.
The NEU issued the following statement: 'Thousands of teachers in publicly funded schools across Devon will again be taking strike action tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday as the Government continues to fail to negotiate on the matter of teacher pay in schools in England.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments have both recently settled their claims on a fully-funded basis. Members in Devon therefore want to know why the English Government is not willing to negotiate on the same issues for their teachers working in England.
On Wednesday well over 100 Devon members will assemble at Exeter St David’s Station from 7.30am onwards to catch a train to London. They will then march on Westminster in a joint trade union demonstration. The national march will begin at Park Lane and finish with a rally at Trafalgar Square. There will be early morning picket lines at a number of schools (details below) on both days.
Mike Gurney, teacher and NEU rep at Okehampton College and Joint Branch Secretary, said: “We very much regret that this third round of action has proved necessary but, given the Government’s refusal to engage in any meaningful negotiations on the key issues, it has become inevitable. Devon members are going to London in unprecedented numbers on 15 March which shows how strongly they support the action being taken. We are also asking the public and members to lobby their local MPs so that we can resolve this dispute, get a fully-funded and acceptable pay award and get back to the thing we do best, which is teaching children to help them on their way to a better life. We hope the Government will follow the lead of Scotland and Wales to bring a swift, fully-funded end to this dispute as a matter of urgency.”
Fiona Westwood, Senior Regional Officer for the NEU, said: “Like NEU members across the country, Devon members remain resolute in persuading the Government that enough really is enough. They will not tolerate yet another real-terms pay cut this year, workload remains a significant issue and they know all-too-well that far too many schools are at breaking point.
'There is a mismatch between the needs of their pupils and students when set against the funding the Government provides to meet these and schools should not have to choose between providing a quality education and paying their teachers a decent professional salary.
'The poor professional funding level we now have has created a serious teacher shortage in many areas, which has led directly to children in secondary schools not even having a guarantee that that they will be taught by a subject-specialist. For children and young people progressing through their education there is always only one opportunity. For them, the Government’s failure to negotiate effectively is a travesty that remains entirely preventable.”