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Norfolk teachers could strike in the new year over funding cuts

PUBLISHED: 10:30 17 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:35 17 November 2018

A teachers strike rally at the Forum in Norwich in 2013. Teachers are being asked to vote on industrial action over government cuts. Picture: Denise Bradley

A teachers strike rally at the Forum in Norwich in 2013. Teachers are being asked to vote on industrial action over government cuts. Picture: Denise Bradley

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Teachers in Norfolk are being ask to vote on strike action over continued government cuts to school budgets.

The National Education Union (NEU) has organised the indicative ballot following a ruling by education secretary Damian Hinds that schools will have to fund the first 1pc of teachers’ pay rises recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).

The NEU claims the government has “failed children” by not living up to six tests set by the union before October’s Budget to provide more support for education.

It said asking schools to help fund teacher pay rises was “the final straw” and that the £400m promised for schools by the Chancellor “would do nothing” to address funding cuts or the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) are also balloting members on possible strike action, in what the NEU called the “unprecedented step” of simultaneous consultation.

Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary and a former headteacher in Bury St Edmunds, said that, for many schools, having to fund the first 1pc of pay rises could be “the cost that finally breaks them”.

Scott Lyons, Norfolk NEU joint division secretary, said: “We have three unions saying enough is enough, three unions who have heard from members what is happening in under-funded schools and are now deciding what to do next.

“This is not against schools – possible action is against the governments’ cuts to school funding and the real-terms loss of money in schools that parents are now being asked to make up to pay for equipment and trips whilst at the same time teachers and adults in schools are disappearing.”

The NEU says it wants “every teacher in all state-funded schools and sixth form colleges to participate and make this ballot a success”.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Since 2010 we’ve raised standards in thousands of classrooms, protected school funding and made it fairer across the country, and recently boosted budgets by £508 million to give hard-working teachers a pay increase.

“But we also recognise budgets remain tight which is why we’re supporting schools and head teachers to make the most of every pound.”

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