Schools across Scotland will close this week after a late attempt to reach a pay offer for teachers could not be agreed.
Primary schools in all 32 local authorities will be closed today, while secondary schools are set for closure tomorrow, as teachers strike across the country.
Teaching unions met with local authorities and the Scottish government at a meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) yesterday in an effort to stop the strike.
General secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), Angela Bradley, said the outcome of the meeting was “disappointing, though not surprising, that no new offer was presented”. However, she did note “positive progress in discussions”.
In November, Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish Government is in discussions with Cosla to deliver a “fair, affordable and sustainable” settlement for teachers, but the 10 per cent demand by teacher unions was described as “unaffordable to the Scottish Government.”
Bradley said: “The SNCT negotiating meeting, held today following a request from teacher unions, did not result in any new pay offer from the Scottish Government and Cosla. This means that strike action – planned for Tuesday in primary schools and for Wednesday in secondary schools – will proceed as scheduled.”
“It is disappointing, though not surprising, that no new offer was presented today, despite some positive progress in discussions. The union side remains willing to talk, at any time, with a view to reaching a resolution to this dispute. While it is now too late to halt this week’s strike action in schools, we hope that fresh talks may take place later this week to advance discussions towards an improved offer. Only a significantly improved offer from the Scottish Government and Cosla can bring an end to this dispute.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Today’s SNCT meeting provided a crucial opportunity to further discuss potential areas for agreement.
“While there was a shared understanding that today’s talks were focused on examining options for compromise, rather than tabling a new offer, dialogue was constructive.
“The Scottish Government continues to urge teaching unions to reconsider their plans for industrial action while talks are ongoing.
“Strikes in our schools are in no one’s interest – including for pupils, parents and carers who have already had to deal with significant disruption over the past three years.
“We value our teaching workforce and recognize the vital importance of an agreement on pay, but we cannot escape the unprecedented pressures facing Scotland’s budget.
“While we have been clear that a 10% pay increase is unaffordable within the Scottish Government’s fixed budget, we remain absolutely committed to a fair and sustainable pay deal.”