Teachers' union to hear calls for strike in June

NUT flag The National Union of Teachers held a one-day strike last month

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The National Union of Teachers is to hear calls for strike action in England and Wales this summer term.

The union's annual conference is to consider a strike over pay and workload in the week beginning 23 June.

Delegates will vote on Saturday on the plans for industrial action, which accuse the government of a "bullying and destructive approach to education".

A Department for Education spokeswoman said a strike would "damage the reputation of the profession".

"Ministers have met frequently with the NUT and other unions and will continue to do so. Further strike action will only disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession," said the education department spokeswoman.

Public campaign

The motion to be debated by the NUT conference in Brighton calls for co-ordination with other unions, but says it would be willing to take strike action alone.

Last month the NUT staged a one-day strike, without the support of the other biggest teachers' union, the NASUWT.

There are GCSE and A-level exams scheduled to be taken on the first three days of the week of proposed strike action.

But the union's general secretary Christine Blower says strike action "will not disrupt exams" and that any staff who need to supervise an exam will be given exemptions from taking part in industrial action.

The conference motion also calls for a lobby of Parliament on 10 June and a broad-based campaign to challenge changes to pay and pensions and the government's education policy.

Busy classroom Teachers' unions say morale in the profession is dangerously low

It calls for a national demonstration in London and efforts to take the union's message on education to the public, using Twitter and Facebook.

"Teacher morale is at a dangerously low ebb," says Ms Blower.

"Changes to pay, pensions and a working week for many teachers of 60 hours is driving many out of the profession."

The NASUWT is also gathering for its annual conference in Birmingham.

General secretary Chris Keates has accused the government of a "relentless assault on public education and the teaching profession".

Ms Keates said that with a general election next year the conference would "be the opportunity to send a strong message to parents, the public and politicians about the impact of four years of the coalition government's education policies".

She described these policies as a "sorry record".

Top graduates

Delegates at both conferences are expected to condemn the government's introduction of performance-related pay and changes to pensions.

Debates will focus on teachers' workload and its effect on morale and recruitment. There are likely to be criticisms of Ofsted and calls for more protection of teachers from the misuse of social media.

Both unions are expected to debate the use of staff without teaching qualifications.

A Department for Education spokeswoman rejected the need for strike action and said that changes to pay and conditions gave greater flexibility to heads and teachers.

"We know that the vast majority of our teachers and school leaders are hardworking and dedicated professionals. That is why we are giving teachers more freedoms than ever and cutting unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy.

"In fact, teaching has never been more attractive, more popular or more rewarding. A record number of top graduates are now applying to become teachers and there have never been more teachers in England's classrooms, with a rise of 9,000 in the last year.

"It is important that teachers work closely with school leaders to ensure that their workload is manageable. We trust the professionalism of our head teachers to monitor their staff's workload and address any issues."

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