Heads could refuse to make redundancies as union backs industrial action

Headteachers could refuse to make redundancies or change the pay and conditions of their staff after the National Association of Head Teachers voted to put industrial action on the table in its fight over school funding.

At its annual conference in Telford this morning, the union voted for a motion which instructs its leaders to explore options available to members to challenge the funding crisis “up to and including industrial action”.

Such action may include heads refusing to make any school staff redundant or reduce terms and conditions of staff in order to balance the budget, the union said. Leaders could also set projected budgets for the coming year “which reflect the actual cost of running a school and which protect the level and quality of education for the children they teach”.

Heads could also refuse to “co-operate and participate” in anything the government asks them to do that does not have a direct link to day-to-day teaching.

Proposing the motion, headteacher Dave Woods said: “This crisis has reached a point where schools are no longer able to provide standards of education afforded to previous generations in our country. This is not good enough.

“They tell us that we’ve never had it so good. In doing so they are causing irreparable damage to the education system.”

Delegates also voted today to step up their campaign to reverse funding cuts and “invest greater effort and resources into our campaigning work”.

The union will also work in partnership with other unions, experts and other stakeholders to “explore the development of a ten-year funding plan for all of our schools and campaigns to achieve its aims”.

Speaking to Schools Week about the motion last week, NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman spoke of the “frustration and anger” among his members over “how long it’s taking to deal with the funding crisis”.

“I have always said that industrial action is a last resort for any union, and in particular in a professional environment where we’re looking after children and are so active in communities. It is so difficult in those circumstances to take action that doesn’t do damage to the community relationship,” he said.

“But we’re not scared of it either. We don’t rule it out. It’s something we will use judiciously. This motion is just reaffirming our commitment to that.”