The National Union of Teachers will ballot for strike action over the government’s plans to turn all schools into academies.
Members of the union, which represent over 300,000 qualified teachers, this afternoon voted overwhelming in favour of a priority motion condemning the government’s education white paper.
The motion included a movement to ballot over strike action in the summer term.
According to the wording of the motion, the basis of the strike will be around recognising the “threat to jobs, pay and non-pay terms represented by the funding cash freeze and the intention to academise all schools, and therefore to declare a dispute with the Secretary of State seeking more funding and a national system of pay and conditions to all state funded schools in England.”
However, the exact legal basis for the strike has yet to be defined.
“We should take strike action and we will take strike action. We will very clearly have to define the dispute and talk to the kind of dispute that it is, so it is a legal trade dispute, but we will do it,” said Ian Murch, from the NUT executive.
“On its own, it [the strike] won’t be enough to defeat what the government intends to do, because it has to be a catalyst,” he continued.
“What we do has to engage with those communities and those political trends that we need to get the support that is the only way we can overturn something which is a key moment in the future of education,” he said.
The motion states that the NUT will approach all other related unions – ATL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, UNISON, and UNITE – to “seek agreement on a common plan for a ballot for discontinuous strike and non-strike action”.
The plan includes a ballot on a one-day strike before the end of the summer term.
This ballot will go ahead regardless of whether any other union is willing to join with the NUT in the summer term, with the aim to coordinate further strikes in the autumn with other unions.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “Government plans to force all schools to become academies over the next 6 years has been greeted with incredulity and horror by parents, teachers and politicians.
“The programme that started with supposed ‘parental choice’ will now deny parents any real choice and will deny head teachers and governors any real choice. It drives the public further and further out of education: no councillors, no local authority governors, no parent governors, and the removal of autonomy for heads. Instead, very well paid chief executives will make the decisions for us all.”
She said the union agreed with shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, who has called for a “pause” in the plans.
In a statement a Department for Education spokesperson said that it was “disappointing that the NUT would rather play politics with our children’s future than work constructively” with them to deliver the government’s vision.
Adding: “We are determined to continue with our vision to ensure every single child has the best possible education, as well as raising the status of the profession. It would be refreshing to see the NUT doing likewise.”