Gillian Keegan begs NEU to stop the ballot

Gillian Keegan stop the ballot plea

Gillian Keegan is "disappointed" in us criticising the Government on social media.


We received a letter from Gillian Keegan, asking us to halt our ballot over pay and funding. If she thinks her threats can stop us from saving our schools, then she should think again.

We’re disappointed her Government’s Budget had none of the extra cash our schools desperately need.

Full text of the letter

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for your letter of 17 January, regarding teacher pay and schoolfunding. I also want to thank you for the meeting we had with Minister Hinds and other General Secretaries on 5 February.

In my first week in this job, I received an open letter from your predecessors and fellow unions, which requested an additional £2bn investment in schools. At the Autumn Statement in November 2022, we delivered on that request and announced an additional

£2bn for 2023-24 and 2024-25. The government made this funding commitment alongside the promise to halve inflation by the end of the year, which we also met.

Despite this, the NEU balloted their members and undertook strike action, which cost children over 25 million school days and caused significant damage to education at a time when we were trying to catch up from the pandemic. t held a series of intensive talks with the four main teaching unionsbetween 17-23 March, which amounted to over 200 hours of ministerial and DfE officials' time. Following these, I made an offer to the unionswhich was rejected, and NEU members continued to strike.

We continued with the independent School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) process and accepted the recommendation of a 6.5% pay award, which resulted in teachers receiving the largest pay award in three decades. Alongside this, we also met our manifesto commitment, raising starting salaries to at least £30,000 for qualified teachers in all regions of England.

As you are aware, we funded that award with an additional £525 million this year and £900 million next to support schools to pass on the award to teachers. As per our joint statement with teaching unions, including the NEU, in July last year, this ensured that the pay award is properly funded. This additional grant alongside the funding secured from the 2022 Autumn Statement will take school funding next year to its highest level in history in real terms, totalling £59.6billion. This demonstrates the extent to which this government values education.

It was disappointing to see the comments you made on social media immediately after the 5 February meeting, and to find out about the NEU's ongoing indicative ballot for industrial action via social media. I remain keen to engage with unions in good faith, as I did at the meeting you requested. As you can understand, the ability to have frank and open discussions becomes more challenging when actions like this occur. It herefore urge you to focus on engaging with the independent pay process currently underway, led by the independent STRB, which as I have outlined above, recommended the largest pay award in three decades for teachers for this year.

As I made clear, I want to continue to work constructively with you and other unions. I know NEU officials are already engaged in discussions about the update to the recruitment and retention strategy and are represented on the Workload Reduction Taskforce. I was pleased that both DfE ministers and union General Secretaries were able to agree to the interim recommendations from the Taskforce, including on Performance Related Pay.

I believe that it is through constructive engagement we will make progress on issues that matter to the profession, not through threats of industrial action.

I hope that the NEU stops calling for ballots which have no bearing on the independent pay review process and only damages children's education and causes significant disruption to parents.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP Secretary of State for Education

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