Parents could be forced to keep their children at home later this week if Monday’s last-ditch talks between Scottish Government officials and teaching unions fail to prevent strikes shutting down schools.
Staff are preparing to walkout of Scottish primary schools on Tuesday and secondary schools the day after amid the country’s teaching unions’ battle with Holyrood for higher pay.
Discussions on Friday between the two sides were hailed as “constructive and helpful” by Shirley-Anne Somerville, Scotland’s Education Secretary, and talks are set to continue on Monday just hours before walkouts are set to take place.
Ms Somerville has urged members of the EIS, NASUWT and SSTA unions, which are all involved in a row over pay, to “reconsider their plans for industrial action while talks are ongoing”.
But the unions have said the strikes will go ahead if there is no new offer.
It means unless a new deal is agreed at the meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), which brings together unions, local authorities and the Scottish Government, industrial action will see most schools north of the border forced to shut.
The current offer on the table would see most staff in classrooms receive a 5% pay rise, although the lowest-earning teachers would get a 6.85% increase.
Unions have demanded a 10% increase.
The Education Secretary said she is “open to considering options to resolve this dispute” but “any deal must be fair and affordable for all concerned, given the unprecedented pressures facing Scotland’s budget”.
Dan Morris, the union’s salaries convener and chairman of the teachers’ side of the SNCT, said they remain “committed to reaching a fair, negotiated pay settlement for Scotland’s teaching professionals”.
“In the absence of any new offer, the planned strike action for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week will proceed as scheduled,” he said last week.