The Association of School and College Leaders is halting its ballot on strike action in England after members voted in favour of accepting the government’s offer on teacher pay and funding for 2023/24.
The ballot was launched on June 19 over the erosion of pay and conditions, teacher shortages and the inadequacy of school funding. It is the first time in the 150-year history of the association that it has launched a national ballot on industrial action. The ballot was due to close on 31 July.
Last week, the government offered an increase of 6.5% from September 2023 to teacher pay supported by a grant intended to cover full costs above the first 3.5% and a hardship fund of up to £40 million to support schools facing the most difficult financial circumstances.
ASCL Executive recommended acceptance of the offer and a consultation of members was held between Monday and Thursday of this week. The result was 87% in favour of accepting the offer, with 13% against, on a turnout of 46% of eligible members.
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The strength of feeling demonstrated by holding our industrial action ballot, alongside similar action by colleagues in other education unions, has been instrumental in achieving the settlement to this dispute.
“We are confident we would have achieved the 50% turnout threshold set out in the legislation had the ballot run its course to 31 July and if there had been no government pay offer. Indeed, the turnout as of yesterday was 47%.
“While the settlement is a step in the right direction, it is not sufficient on its own to address the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention or the funding pressures being experienced by schools and colleges.
“It is of critical importance that this settlement is the starting point and that there is an ongoing commitment from the government to provide the resources and investment needed to ensure the sustainability of the education sector and its capacity to deliver the quality of education and support that all children and young people need and deserve.
“We will continue to press the government for action on these issues in the future and, while we hope that it will not again be necessary to initiate a ballot for industrial action, this is something that we are prepared to do as a last resort in order to secure a fair deal for education.
“However, our first recourse is always to find solutions through discussion and negotiation and we look forward to working with the government in this way, as we have always sought to do, in the future.”