Teachers in England will not back down over pay, says union

Teachers in England "will not back down" over pay, the National Education Union (NEU) says, after talks with the government did not lead to a new offer.

More than half of schools in England closed or partially closed when teachers in England and Wales went on strike on 1 February.

More NEU strikes are planned for this month and next.

The Department for Education said the talks earlier were "constructive".

A spokesman said they discussed "a range of issues", including workload and teacher recruitment and retention.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan asked officials to hold "further detailed talks with unions" and "committed to more talks ahead of planned strike action," the spokesman added.

After the meeting, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said there was "nothing... we could work with to justify suspending the next day of regional strikes" on 28 February.

"While there was a more positive tone at today's talks and more meetings will be set up as a result, the outcome was still disappointing," he said.

"Gillian Keegan and the government need to be aware that teachers will not back down on this."

Teachers in Wales have rejected an improved pay offer from the Welsh government, and will return to striking on 2 March.

Industrial action had been planned for 14 February, but was postponed after ministers offered an additional 1.5% rise on staff salary and a one-off 1.5% payment. The offer was put to NEU members over the weekend, but they turned it down.

The Scottish government has also put forward a new offer - a 6% pay rise in the current year and a further 5.5% in the new financial year, which starts in April.

EIS, Scotland's biggest teaching union, said no decision had been made on whether to suspend action.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that without an improved offer in England, its own members - and those of other unions - could conclude "that industrial action is the only option left".

"There is a limit to how many times we can come out of a meeting with the education secretary without progress being made," he said.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said unions were "still some way off from hearing what specific proposals the government is willing to put on the table".

"Given developments in Wales and Scotland in the last week the education secretary has some catching up to do," he added.