Teachers to ballot over school funding walk-out
Teachers have backed calls for a ballot on strike action over shortfalls to school funding in England and Wales.
The National Union of Teachers claims a funding gap could leave one in 10 teachers facing redundancy.
Head teachers have said they face a budget squeeze from the rising cost of pensions, national insurance contributions and pay.
The union says it will hold a strike ballot after the election, but before the autumn statement if “no progress” is made in talks on school funding with the next government.
The ballot motion was backed at the NUT conference in Harrogate, where delegates heard claims that funding shortages would threaten redundancies.
NUT executive member Ian Murch said over the period of the next Parliament, if funding per pupil remained fixed at the current level, “every school will be looking at getting rid of one teacher in 10, and one member of support staff in 10.
“We have not seen cuts like this in a generation and lots of members will be looking at losing their jobs.”
He told delegates: “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.”
Welsh delegate Beth Davies said in schools in Wales were also suffering, and that there was significant underfunding in some local authorities with some schools losing as much as £100,000.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies has estimated that even with the pledges of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats to protect school spending in England at current levels, rising costs will mean schools could face up to a 12% shortfall on their budgets over the next five years.
Among the funding pressures are rising teachers’ pay, pensions, national insurance contributions and an increasing numbers of pupils.
The motion said “if no progress is made in talks with the new government on the issue of funding” the union should be prepared to take strike action.
It commits the NUT to working with other unions to “prepare for and ballot for a national campaign of strike and non-strike action” on the “impact of cuts on pay and working conditions”.