At a NEU union demonstration in February (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Teachers in England are pressing for strikes because a government “error” will mean devastating cuts. 

The Department for Education admitted it miscalculated its funding plans. An original plan of a 2.7 percent increase per pupil for 2024-25 was updated on Friday to be only 1.9 percent. 

Primary and secondary schools will be given at least £50 less a pupil than originally forecast. For a typical secondary school the loss equates to a teacher’s salary.

Paul McGarr, a teacher in east London, told Socialist Worker, “The government lied and is now planning to cut the equivalent of one teacher in every school. 

“It means the basis on which teachers voted to accept the 6.5 percent pay deal in July is not valid. The only possible reaction is to use the union’s existing strike mandate—from the ballot that closed just before the summer—to call immediate and hard-hitting national strikes.

“If the government tries to block this and wins, we should simultaneously move to a new ballot.”

The NEU executive meets on Thursday. School workers should meet on Monday or Tuesday and bombard their general secretary Daniel Kebede and the executive with demands for strikes.

The Educators Say No group that was formed to oppose the July deal could also meet to coordinate immediate resistance.

Kebede said he was called into an urgent meeting at the department on Friday evening to discuss the situation.

The union said in a statement that the government is “not paying attention to the crisis in education”. It added, “Head teachers have planned for that money and budgets are pared to the bone.”

Days before this latest blow, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that rising costs have already hammered budgets. Schools’ purchasing power per pupil in 2024-25 would be about 3 percent lower than in 2009-10. 

It said the fall in spending per pupil in the decade after 2009-10 was “the largest and most sustained cut in school in at least 40 years, and probably a lot longer”. It’s time for a fightback.

Strike in Jersey

Teachers in Jersey, a British crown dependency, are set to strike for five days over pay. The States Employment Board has offered a 7.9 percent pay, the NEU union is demanding 15.4 percent.

Strikes are planned at all the island’s 33 schools for 17 and 18 October and on 14, 15 and 16 November. Workers have already held a one-day strike last month.

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