Hands Up - Leaders

As a school leader you know the effects of funding cuts first-hand. If we are to put pressure on the Government to increase school and college funding it is vital that leaders – with the backing of others and their union – speak out about the funding crisis and the impacts on the children and young people you teach.

The NEU encourages all members – including leaders – to hold meetings to discuss the funding crisis within our schools and colleges and to use their vote in the indicative ballot.

How to support the campaign

  • Where there is a NEU rep in your school we hope they will organise a staff meeting to discuss the issues and we would urge you to facilitate this.
  • Where there is no NEU rep we would encourage you to organise a staff meeting to talk about funding and to remind staff to vote in our indicative ballot survey. If you need any support to do this, please contact your local union officer or regional office. 

FAQs for leaders

Since 2010, real-terms funding per pupil has been cut by 8 per cent. As school leaders know only too well, this is having a serious impact on our schools and colleges and on our pupils and students.

Head teachers are left with the impossible task of delivering the best education for our children with ever-declining budgets. This is why the National Education Union (NEU) is working together with ASCL and NAHT in the ‘Hands Up’ campaign. Each of these unions are consulting members about the future of the funding campaign

School cuts have been compounded by the Government’s refusal to fully fund or fully implement the latest pay recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), leaving our schools and colleges at breaking point. This is the final straw.

So on top of the cuts, this dispute is about a Government that is ignoring the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention and that is ignoring its own experts in the STRB.

As leaders you have suffered the biggest pay cutback – getting only 1.5%, not the STRB-recommended 3.5%.

Prior to the Autumn Budget, the National Education Union, alongside heads’ unions ASCL and the NAHT, set the Chancellor six tests for his Budget. These were:

  • School cuts must be reversed immediately
  • The Treasury must provide new money for schools
  • High needs, early years and post -16 education must be fairly fund
  • Education must have a five year-funding plan
  • Historic underfunding must be addressed

These tests were not met in the November Budget announcement.

We are now seeking school leaders and teachers’ views about next steps in our campaign to secure the school funding our pupils need and deserve.

An indicative ballot is a way for the union to understand what members think about an issue and if they feel strongly enough to take industrial action. The NEU rulebook stipulates that the union must undertake an indicative ballot before progressing to an industrial action ballot.

An indicative ballot is not a statutory ballot and therefore is not bound by any legal process.

Over the past two years, the union has been at the forefront of campaigning around school funding, as part of the highly effective School Cuts coalition.

But our schools are at breaking point and asking them to use their funds to meet a proportion of the latest teachers’ pay award is the final straw.

That is why the Joint Executive Committee (JEC) of the NEU voted to undertake an indicative ballot if the Chancellor’s Budget did not meet the six tests to help solve the crisis in education.

We will be balloting all in service teachers working in state-funded schools (this includes academies and free schools) and sixth form colleges in England.

We are aware that under-funding our schools has a detrimental impact on all our members in education, including support staff. However, we believe that the failure of this Government to fully implement and fund the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) recommendations will be the final straw for our financially struggling schools and many will simply be unable to find the money they need.

For this latter reason, the Joint Executive Council (JEC) of the NEU has taken the decision to conduct an indicative ballot of teachers and leaders for industrial action in state-funded schools and sixth form colleges in England.

However, the participation of support staff in the campaign for more funding for schools and colleges will be crucial, if we are going to stop and reverse the savage funding cuts in our schools. The teachers’ and leaders’ ballot is just one part of the ‘Hands Up’ campaign, and during the next few months we will be talking to all NEU members about how they can support and get involved in the campaign for fair funding in our schools and colleges.

If you are the school or college rep or contact, but not a teacher, we would like you to hold a meeting of all members in your school, talk to everyone about the funding campaign and encourage those eligible to vote and vote YES!

Most members will receive an email with a unique reference number to carry out their vote online. Those who don’t have a valid email address will receive a unique ID via letter for them to also vote online. Members in Coventry, Rotherham and Milton Keynes will receive a postal vote and return envelope.

For ATL Section members

  • All ATL Section members can update their details online here and login, using your username and password. If not you can complete an online web form by going here to update your details.

For NUT Section members

  • All NUT Section members can update their details online via the NUT website

For NEU members

  • All National Education Union members who joined on or after 1 September 2017 can update their details by contacting NEU head office or by calling 0345 811 8111.

When you update your details, you will automatically receive a new ballot invitation to your updated email or home address.

The indicative ballot will be open in November and will run until early January 2019.

If you haven’t received your ballot paper or email invitation by 30 November, complete the ballot enquiries form.


You will likely have teacher colleagues who are not yet union members who are supportive of our campaign on funding and want to join. Please talk to them about why they should join the NEU in your school and our longstanding campaign for professional unity; that all teachers should be united in one union. The NEU is the largest education union in Europe and represents the majority of teachers in England and Wales. This is a great opportunity to build the union in your workplace and make our voice on funding even louder.

If a new member joins and is eligible to take part in the indicative ballot, they will automatically receive an email with their unique reference number to carry out their vote online.

Support staff who join the NEU will not be included in the indicative ballot but, like other support staff members, will be able to join in and support our campaign in other ways.

New members can join for 75% off their first year’s membership fee, if they join before 31 December 2018 and haven’t been a member of the NEU, ATL, or NUT in the last 36 months. Newly Qualified colleagues can join for just £1 and trainee teachers can join for free.

Get in touch

If the answer to your question cannot be found above, or if you haven't had an indicative ballot invitation by 30 November, please use the form to let us know.