Educational psychologists working at most councils across England have voted in favour of strike action over pay.
Eighty-six per cent voted in favour of industrial action, comfortably surpassing the thresholds set by government.
Ballots for strike met the thresholds in 130 out of 157 council areas, while a further six voted for action short of a strike.
The union’s executive met yesterday to “discuss plans for industrial action”.
But the union also revealed it had also been sent a “revised and improved pay offer, which the AEP and its members will now consider before deciding next steps”. The AEP has not yet revealed what the offer is.
Pay for educational psychologists, who play a fundamental role in assessing the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities, is set by councils.
The ballot relates to their pay offer for 2022, which was a rise of £1,925. The AEP, which has 3,600 members across the UK, said this averaged a 3 per cent rise, despite much higher levels of inflation.
Message from members ‘loud and clear’
Dr Cath Lowther, the union’s general secretary, said her members had “said loud and clear that our children deserve to see an educational psychologist when they need to”.
“They have turned out in significant numbers to vote yes to industrial action and to save local authority educational psychology services.
“It is clear that our campaign and the strength of feeling from our members, which has been reflected in the strike ballot, has been heard by the employers and we welcome the revised pay offer which we have just received.
“We will consider this offer before deciding on our next steps.”
She said educational psychologists helped “tens of thousands of children and young people and their families” every year.
“Despite the vital services and support provided by EPs, local authorities have not invested in the profession and now face widespread recruitment and retention problems.
“The resulting rise in EP workloads means that children and young people are waiting far too long to be seen by an EP – or worse, don’t get to see an EP at all.”