Victor Coert, President of ASCL Northern Ireland, comments following the announcement that the majority of teachers in Northern Ireland are to hold a half-day strike on February 21.
"Teachers and leaders deserve to be properly paid for their tireless efforts on behalf of students. To continue to pay teachers inadequately sends a message to our young people that the work they do is not valued and disincentivises graduates from entering the profession.
“Unfortunately, no resolution has been reached on the two-year pay offer made to the teaching unions last February, and since May 2022 schools have experienced action short of strike which has impacted on many routine tasks in schools. Under these circumstances, it is unsurprising that the failure to resolve the industrial dispute now means that strike action is firmly on the cards. The Association of School and College Leaders fully respects the other unions’ legitimate right take this industrial action and knows that the teaching workforce would much rather be in the classroom educating our children and young people. It is disappointing therefore that the teaching unions feel that they have been left with no option other than to take strike action, which inevitably will impact on the children and young people in our care.
“Those responsible for government in Northern Ireland must make it a priority to review and address this situation as a matter of urgency, to ensure that schools are properly resourced and that teachers are fairly remunerated for their role. The financial settlement for 2022/23 represents a significant real terms cut, and leaves schools in an impossible position. It is imperative that there is an improved pay settlement as well as an education budget which allows school leaders to plan their finances with the confidence that they will be able to sustain the high quality of education that children and young people need and deserve. Any pay award must be fully funded, as schools simply cannot be left to find money for salaries from already overstretched budgets.”