The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) will hold a formal ballot for school leaders to vote on strike action for the first time in the union’s history.
Senior elected members of the union decided to ask its members whether they want to stage walkouts “over the school funding crisis, the erosion of teacher and leader pay and conditions, and consequent staff shortages which are undermining the education system”.
If members opt to strike, the union said action would be expected to take place during the autumn term of the next school year.
General secretary Geoff Barton said: “ASCL has never before formally balloted at a national level and this is clearly a very significant step. The fact that we have reached this point reflects the desperate situation regarding inadequate funding, long-term pay erosion, teacher shortages, and the intransigence of a government which we can only conclude does not value the education workforce or recognise the severe pressures facing the sector.
He said the union had made “every effort to resolve this matter through negotiations” but the government’s offer has “failed to sufficiently address pay and conditions, and, critically, did not provide enough funding for even the meagre proposal it put forward”.
“This action is taken as a last resort and with a heavy heart, but we cannot accept the continued damage to education caused by government neglect and complacency,” Mr Barton added.
A date for the ballot is yet to be confirmed, but is expected to be held in the summer term.
It comes after the National Education Union (NEU) rejected a government pay offer, announcing two further strike dates planned for 27 April and 2 May.
The government said it had offered teachers a £1,000 payment for the current school year – on top of an average 5.4% rise last September – plus an average 4.5% rise next year.
“The Government has made no effort to reopen negotiations and has said only that the issue of pay will now revert to the School Teachers’ Review Body,” Mr Barton said.
Other unions that rejected the latest offer include the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).
The NAHT could also hold a formal ballot after 78% of its members said they would be prepared to vote on industrial action.