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NEU votes to hear pay offer before balloting for strikes

Members of the National Education Union have voted to wait to hear the teachers’ pay offer for September before moving to a formal strikes ballot.

An amended motion, passed this morning at the union’s annual conference in Bournemouth, instructed its executive to “intensify campaigning and mobilising our members prior to the government’s pay offer and funding settlement for 2024-25”. 

The union should then “present the pay and funding offer to members in a snap poll, and if rejected with a convincing turnout, move to a formal ballot”.

The government usually publishes the recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body, along with its decision on whether to accept them, at the end of the summer term.

Daniel Kebede, the union’s general secretary, said they had “put this government, and any new government that follows it, on notice”.

“We will move to a formal strike ballot in England and Wales if and when necessary to save our schools and colleges.”

“This decision is a clear message to Gillian Keegan. If you want to fix the urgent recruitment and retention crisis and support schools and colleges to meet the rising tide of pupil needs, you must meet with the NEU to directly discuss the question of pay and funding.

Delegates reject June ballot

Delegates rejected an amendment that called on the union to “launch, no later than the first week in June, a national strike ballot on funding and pay, to close before the end of September”.

A ballot held in June would likely have gone ahead without an understanding of what the pay award will be for September.

The union is unlikely to want to hold a postal ballot over the summer holidays, so the decision today potentially pushes any potential vote into the autumn term.

Unions fear ministers are gearing up to make an offer of just 1 or 2 per cent, after education secretary Gillian Keegan told the STRB that teacher pay awards should return to a “more sustainable level” than seen in the last two years.

The Department for Education said it believes there is only headroom in budgets for the next financial year for schools to raise overall spending by 1.2 per cent, or £600 million.

Ministers have previously estimated that each 1 percentage point increase in teacher pay costs about £270 million – meaning the headroom would only allow for a pay rise of around 2 per cent.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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