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Exams hit in Scottish schools as teachers go on strike over pay

Some Scottish schools will be forced to reschedule preliminary exams today as teachers in the country hold their second day of strike action, unions have said.

Secondary schools are closed across Scotland as teachers continue industrial action in a pay row, following a walkout by their colleagues in primary schools on Tuesday.

Talks between the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) and the Scottish Government failed to find a solution.

A pay increase of 10% has been demanded by unions – amid inflation of more than 11% – but the government has offered half that, with lowest paid staff offered rises of up to 6.85%.

The walkouts will affect the exam timetables of schools, according to Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland national official.

He said: “It will depend on individual schools. A lot of schools have their prelims in January and there’s no doubt that there will be some schools around who will have had some preliminary exams scheduled for today, that they have had to shift.

“We’ve not heard of that posing any particular problems for these schools, they will presumably have just shifted them to a bit later on. We will be talking about small numbers of individual schools and pupils that that will affect.

“As we’ve said all along, I don’t think any of our members want to be out on strike today, but despite some talks and pay negotiations there’s still no revised pay offer on the table, it’s the same offer as in November, and they feel pushed into a corner.”

“We noted the Cabinet Secretary’s statement to the Scottish Parliament about leaving no stone unturned in seeking a resolution.

“We will take her at her word and hope to see a revised offer, and hope to see a resolution of the dispute.”

Members of SSTA and NASUWT unions also took two days of action in December, while EIS members walked out in November.

On Tuesday, those striking gathered outside the offices of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) in Edinburgh, where the EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley accused the group and the Scottish government of using “Tory tactics”, in trying to weaken the action taken.

Ms Bradley told members of the union she was confident of victory in the dispute, but said employers were “dampening aspirations”.

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She said: “The employers’ body knows, if teachers are paid more fairly for the work that they do, that will raise the aspirations of other workers too.

“Cosla and the Scottish Government, they don’t want that. They want to tie one set of negotiation arrangements to another, doing all that they can to dampen aspirations.

“Overall, we have lost 20-25% of the value of our pay since 2008. That’s unfair and that’s unacceptable.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I deeply regret that we have industrial action in our schools.

“I don’t think that’s in the interest of young people at all. That said, I understand the strength of feeling of teachers and we highly value the teaching profession.

“I can’t create additional funding that we don’t have, and I’ve tried to be really honest with unions across the public sector.

“We’re trying to be as fair as possible while maximising pay increases.”