Posted: Sat 2nd Mar 2024

Education union opens preliminary ballot over pay, funding and school year in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

An education union has launched a preliminary ballot over pay, funding and the school year in Wales.

NEU Cymru will consult thousands of teacher members working in maintained schools on whether they are prepared to take part in industrial action to win additional funding from Welsh Government for pay and additional staffing resources.

The ballot will also include and over the plans to move two weeks from the summer holidays.

According to the union the move form “forms part of an ongoing campaign to secure a long-term correction in pay”.

The ballot will also focus on Welsh Government plans to shorten the school summer holidays.

Under the plans, a week would be taken from the start of the summer and added to the October break, although the overall number of holiday days would remain unchanged. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌​​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​

The changes would be implemented from September 2025, meaning schools would have a two-week break in October 2025 and a five-week summer break in 2026. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌​​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​

Ministers are also considering the option of moving a second week from the summer break and adding it to the Whitsun half-term in May. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌​​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​

NEU Cymru argues that the proposals are “not a priority for education and won’t have the positive impact that the education workforce and learners deserve.”

The preliminary ballot opens on 2 March and closes on 28 March. The questions are:

  • Do you agree that you should receive an above inflation pay rise for 2024-25?
  • Would you vote “yes” to strike action for a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise that constitutes a meaningful step towards a long-term correction in pay, and further funding to provide improved levels of staffing provision in schools, colleges, and education services.
  • Would you vote “yes” to strike action if the Welsh Government imposes a reform of the school year by reducing the summer break to four weeks?

Emma Forrest, NEU’s assistant general secretary with responsibility for Wales, said: “Education in Wales is really struggling.

“In real terms, there are cuts to the education budgets across the country.

“There is every indication the Welsh Government only be willing to offer a below inflation pay rise in the next pay round, so we are putting our members on alert that action may be necessary to ensure a proper pay and funding offer for teachers.

“Rather than allow the Welsh Government to undo the gains of last year, the NEU will seek to push forward in its campaign for a long-term correction on pay.

“We believe that the case for additional funding for pay and staffing provision is clear and obvious.

“Fair pay is not just a request, but a necessity. Schools deserve proper funding for staffing provision – and also so that schools have the necessary funding to cover a pay rise.

“Real terms pay cuts have been central to many of the issues blighting schools. It affects recruitment, with Welsh Government unable to meet its training targets year on year.

” We also see teachers leaving in droves, and too many of them just a handful of years after qualifying.

“School leaders have been making ends meet for too long, with plans to change the structure of the school year – and move up to two weeks from the school summer holidays – showing the Welsh Government needs to sort out their priorities and support schools more, not introduce another change.

“Last year members stood together and won new money for schools including a funded settlement on teacher pay.

“Welsh Government should be aware that our members will not sit back and accept an unfunded, below-inflation pay rise.”

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