Exams could be disrupted by teachers' strikes after union recommends rejecting government's 'insulting' pay offer

28 March 2023, 10:01

Teachers have refused to rule out disrupting exams with strikes
Teachers have refused to rule out disrupting exams with strikes. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

A teachers' union boss has refused to rule out calling strikes on school exam days after recommending members turn down a government pay offer.

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Mary Bousted of the National Education Union said she "hoped" that exams would not be disrupted by strikes, but refused to say it would not happen.

The government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off cash payment for this school year and a 4.3% consolidated pay rise for most teachers the following year, following weeks of talks.

The NEU, which is the largest teaching union, has recommended that members vote to reject this.

Ms Bousted said: "Our executive committee looked carefully at the offer and decided it was really insulting and that the union had to offer advice to members, who will either take that advice or ignore us."

“It's out of sight, out of mind”: James O’Brien shocked at lack of media coverage of teacher strike

Asked whether strikes could disrupt exams, Ms Bousted said: "We really hope that that doesn't take place."

The government has described its offer to teachers as "fair and reasonable".

A department for education (DfE) spokesman said: "The government and the education unions - NAHT, ASCL, NEU and NASUWT - have engaged in intensive discussions over the last ten days.

Teachers voted to strike earlier this year in a row over pay and conditions
Teachers voted to strike earlier this year in a row over pay and conditions. Picture: Alamy

"The government has put forward a fair and reasonable offer, backed with funding for schools.

"The offer provides an average 4.5% pay rise for next year, puts £1,000 into the pockets of teachers as a one-off payment for this year, and commits to reducing workload by five hours each week.

"This is a good deal for teachers that acknowledges their hard work and dedication."

Teachers protesting earlier this month in London
Teachers protesting earlier this month in London. Picture: Alamy

The NEU's stance will come as a blow to the government after the union said on March 17 that its negotiators were engaged in “intensive talks” with the government in a bid to settle the long running dispute.

Read more: 'We don't have glue sticks to offer': Teachers join junior doctors and tube drivers as mass Budget Day strikes sweep the UK

Read more: Furious parents hit back at 'disruptive' teachers blocking Ofsted inspectors in protest after headteacher's death

Schools across the country have been affected by recent strike action, with more than 50% of schools in England closing or restricting attendance during walk outs on March 15 and March 16. Strikes also took place on March 1 and March 2.

It follows NHS nurses reaching a 5% pay deal agreement after they, alongside ambulance crews and other health workers, agreed to suspend further industrial action while ballots were held.

RMT members at Network Rail have also agreed a pay deal to end their long-running dispute with the government.

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