Morale is at an all-time low and schools feel besieged by the lack of government will to address deep systemic problems in education. It is little wonder unions have decided to coordinate strike action, says Geoff Barton

In a joint press conference last week, I joined with the general secretaries of the National Association of Head Teachers, National Education Union, and NASUWT in announcing that we intend to coordinate on industrial action over the interlinked issues of pay, conditions, teacher shortages, and inadequate funding.

The word unprecedented is used a lot these days, but this is genuinely new territory in many respects and is a sign of the strength of feeling that exists across the profession about the unsustainable burden which government neglect and complacency has inflicted upon schools and the education workforce.

The trade union I represent – the Association of School and College Leaders – has never before, in our 150-year history, balloted on national strike action. But that is the situation in which we now find ourselves following protracted negotiations with the government that resulted in a pay and conditions offer that was so patently inadequate in all possible respects that it was comprehensively rejected by the memberships of all four trade unions.

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