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Teaching union to ballot on strike action

A LEADING teaching union has called for a ballot for its members to consider strike action. The National Union of Teachers (NUT), at its annual conference in Harrogate, have said that they fear that a gap in school funding in England and Wales is so severe that it could leave one in ten teachers facing redundancy. Head teachers have reported to the union that their budgets are being squeezed as a result of the rising cost of pensions, NI contributions and pay.

The union said it will hold a ballot after the election. NUT executive member, Ian Murch, said: “We have not seen cuts like this in a generation and lots of members will be looking at losing their jobs. It’s too late for most schools to do much cutting this September. So early next year, across England and Wales as employers face up to the financial realities, there will be a ‘night of the long knives’ in every school and every college as teachers are cut, support staff are cut, courses and programmes are cut, and the focus will be how can we raise class sizes, how can we provide less provision for special needs.”

Owen Hathway, NUT Wales Policy Officer, also added his concerns for schools under Welsh Assembly control, saying: “We know that funding has historically been lower per pupil in Wales than in England. That has hampered the abilities of schools and teachers to ensure that their dedication, and the dedication of pupils and parents across Wales, is supported in the way it should be. Over the past few years we have seen some real progress in standards but that will be put at risk with the financial claw backs we are experiencing.

Quite simply, school budgets are at breaking point and we cannot accept that situation continuing.” Dr. Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru had this to say: “The quality of education will suffer if staffing numbers are decimated. In Wales further cuts will exacerbate an already fraught situation where schools have been chronically underfunded by the Welsh Government for over a decade. All politicians need to accept that you can’t do education on the cheap.’

Lib Dems education spokesman David Laws, was keen to point out his party’s position, stating: “You can’t raise standards; recruit great teachers, and help every child reach their full potential if schools are starved of cash. We will protect the full education budget in real terms – including schools, early years and 16-19 education.” A Conservative spokesman said: “The NUT leadership’s irresponsible decision to agitate for further strike action shows just how out of touch they are with parents and children across the country. We have had to make difficult decisions to tackle the record deficit we inherited, but we have protected spending on schools in real terms and spending per pupil has gone up over the course of this Parliament.”