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Rob Devey
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Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 

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Ballot of Welsh school leaders put on hold as industrial action continues

Today NAHT Cymru has confirmed that it will not go ahead with a planned ballot of members on a new offer from the Welsh Government due to a lack of detail and transparency.

Last week the Welsh Government announced an improved pay offer, an agreement to reopen pay negotiations for 2023/24 and a commitment on workload in an effort to resolve the ongoing industrial dispute with education unions.

While those discussions on workload have been positive, a lack of details on proposals, timescales and implementation, coupled with continued concerns over funding have stalled progress.

At a meeting of the union’s membership, it was announced that the union’s executive officers would not be moving forward with a planned ballot at this time and industrial action would continue.

NAHT general secretary, Paul Whiteman, said: “It was encouraging to see the Welsh government come forward with an offer to resolve the dispute, however, it’s crucial that members have all the details necessary to make an informed decision on whether these proposals go far enough.

“While it’s certainly important the government begins to seriously tackle the 22% drop in school leader pay in Wales since 2010, the recruitment and retention crisis in schools is also being fuelled by crippling workload pressures which are affecting the ability of leaders and staff to offer children the education they deserve.

“It’s therefore disappointing that the Welsh government has so far been unable to back up its warm words on workload with details of tangible reforms to reduce bureaucracy.”

NAHT Cymru director, Laura Doel, added: “Reducing workload and tackling the issue of school funding is going to be crucial in resolving this dispute.  While we continue to work through our workload concerns with the government, there must be commitment for change, not just discussion.”

On the issue of school funding, Ms Doel continued to raise concerns about the transparency of school funding, citing the £117m handed to local authorities in its entirety from Westminster, via the Welsh government.

“The Welsh government asked unions to join them in their call for additional funding for Wales.  We delivered on our promise to do so and used our influence at Westminster to lobby for more money.  Money came through, that money was given in its entirety to the local authorities with a clear direction that it was for education. But when school leaders across Wales continue to talk staffing cuts due to lack of funding, you have to question where that money has gone?”

In the meantime, NAHT will be continuing its action short of strike following its recent ballot on industrial action. The action is continuous until further notice.

This means that union members who are employed as headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers and middle leaders will:

  •  Restrict availability to receive or respond to calls and emails before 9am or after 3pm
  • Abstain from attending meetings after 5pm
  • Refuse to facilitate unsolicited school visits or take part in non-statutory consultations, surveys, projects, meetings, government, local authority or Consortia webinars or data requests
  • Abstain from involvement in any staff appraisal or redundancy process
  • Abstain from facilitating or arranging cover for those taking part in any industrial action
  • Refuse to provide information regarding staff participation in industrial action
  • Refuse to engage with Estyn, which inspects education and training providers in Wales, beyond statutory requirements
First published 17 February 2023