Teacher strikes

Heads could co-ordinate industrial action with teacher strikes

NAHT considers emergency executive meeting to discuss formal ballot after members reject pay offer

NAHT considers emergency executive meeting to discuss formal ballot after members reject pay offer

Any industrial action by headteachers would likely be co-ordinated with teacher strikes, a union leader has said.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, revealed today his organisation was considering calling an emergency executive meeting to discuss a potential ballot after members voted “overwhelmingly” to reject the government’s pay offer.

The NAHT announced this morning that 90 per cent of voting members rejected the offer of a £1,000 one-off payment this year and a 4.3 per cent rise for most teachers and leaders next year, on a turnout of 64 per cent.

I can’t imagine a situation where all the unions would be in dispute and wouldn’t coordinate action

And 78 per cent said they would be prepared to vote for and take industrial action, up to and including strikes.

The union said its executive would now meet to discuss next steps “including a formal ballot on industrial action”.

Whiteman told journalists at the National Education Union’s conference today the executive was due to meet on April 27, but leaders were discussing whether they needed an “emergency” meeting sooner.

He said he was “hopeful” any potential ballot would perform better than the union’s last vote, which fell short of the 50 per cent turnout threshold required.

But he added “you can never be complacent about that. I mean, those thresholds are designed to make sure you don’t get across.”

Co-ordination would make ‘stronger’ point

Whiteman also indicated his union would seek to coordinate any potential action with other unions. The NEU has announced two more days of strike action next term and delegates voted in favour of holding three more before the summer.

The ASCL school leaders’ union has also rejected the pay offer and is considering its next steps, and the NASUWT teaching union is expected to announce its results later this week.

Paul Whiteman
Paul Whiteman

“I think we need to also keep an eye on what ASCL will choose to do, what the NASUWT will announce and what their choices are. I can’t imagine a situation where all the unions would be in dispute and wouldn’t coordinate action.”

Doing so would “make the point as strongly as it possibly can”, Whiteman added.

He admitted that heads walking out alone was “not going to have the same level of disruptive impact as mass walkouts by teaching unions”, with schools “used to operating with their head being in meetings and in other areas”.

“But the symbolism of school leaders saying ‘you cannot separate us from our teams and we’re standing up for education in the same way’ is really very very important.

“What school leaders are saying is they’re prepared to take action to show that they can’t find any more solutions, they’re completely out of solutions to make the budget go any further. They don’t have any solutions to recruit people that don’t want to come into the profession.”

Whiteman also revealed the NAHT’s membership had grown from 35,641 at the end of December to just under 37,500, a rise of around 5 per cent in just three months.

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  1. For the ASCL and the NAHT to be taking a stand is unprecedented! Thgey normally adopt the government stance in every situation. Surely this shows that something has gone seriously wrong with the DfE and the education secretary, with their view being totally out of touch with the reality of schools today. Maybe employing MPs that have an understanding of the department they are leading would begin to alleviate this problem? Perhaps a stint in work shadowing for prospective depatment leads would be a useful activity. The Education secretary could shadow Head teachers and Teachers for a week, Health secretaries could shadow consultants and junior doctors for a week… just a thought.