Pay negotiations between teachers and the government could start in earnest as early as next week, after strikes that are expected to disrupt schools across England on Wednesday and Thursday.
The National Education Union (NEU) is going ahead with its final planned two days of strikes in England, which will mean many pupils missing school or working from home, despite an offer by Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, to open talks if it called them off.
The NEU argued that previous governments held talks while industrial action was taking place, most recently in 2011, and accused Keegan of creating “a stumbling block with which to play politics” rather than negotiate.
The Department for Education (DfE) has refused to start negotiations while strikes have been scheduled, but the end of the NEU’s current round of industrial action briefly opens a window for talks to begin.
Keegan has held separate discussions with the leaders of other unions, including the National Association of Head Teachers and the Association of School and College Leaders, with the DfE hinting that teachers risk missing out on a pay deal similar to that being negotiated with nurses.