Headteachers will be balloted on industrial action in a row over pay and funding, a union has announced.
General secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Paul Whiteman told the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference that he has “never heard more anger and despair” from school leaders.
Speaking at the event in Brighton, East Sussex, he said headteachers have lost around 24% on the value of their salary since 2010, and he has written to Education Secretary Kit Malthouse about the ballot.
Education funding is set to be 3% less in real terms in 2024/2025 than it was in 2010, and school leaders feel “compelled to fight for the futures of the children”, according to Mr Whiteman.
“Over the course of the last few months, I have travelled the country hearing from our members directly,” he said.
Education funding is set to be 3% less in real terms in 2024/2025 than it was in 2010. Danny Lawson
“I have never heard more anger and despair.
“School leaders across the country are telling me that they cannot continue to run their schools in the current circumstances.
“The neglect of pay in education and the funding to support it is now eroding the quality of education that our members can provide.”
Mr Whiteman added that insufficient pay has sent schools into “a vicious spiral” of staff resignations, and warned that “heartbreaking cuts to services” will have to be made.
He said that “spiralling energy bills”, inflation and lack of funding for teachers’ pay mean thousands of schools believe they are heading for a deficit.
“Consequently, school leaders are being forced to make cuts that ultimately cannot help but negatively impact on the education and wellbeing of children,” he said.
Mr Whiteman concluded that the “relentlessly reasonable professionals” he represents feel they have “no choice” but to move to a formal ballot.
“No school leader would ever take any industrial action lightly, but they are telling me they feel compelled to fight for the futures of the children and young people in their care,” he said.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the future of education is on the line.”
Leaders would aim to avoid disruption to pupils, according to Mr Whiteman, as he urged the Government to respond to their concerns.
This follows an NAHT survey which suggested 84% of members in England want to be balloted on taking action short of a strike if an agreement on pay and funding is not reached, and 55% wish to vote on taking strike action.
Some 64% of members responded to the survey, which was conducted this month.
School leaders in Wales also indicated their concern in a concurrent poll by NAHT Cymru, which indicated that 91% of members wanted to be balloted on action short of a strike, and 64% wished to vote on strike action.
The NAHT represents school leaders in the majority of primary schools in England and Wales.