Teaching union members in Bury have called for a meeting with the town’s Conservative MP amid demands for improved pay and conditions.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NEU) gathered outside Bury North MP James Daly’s office in the town centre on Monday amid strikes taking place across the country.

Members from four unions took part in a fifth day of national strike action on Tuesday after rejecting a pay offer of a 4.3 per cent rise next year, and a £1000 one off payment this year.

Three other unions, including the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have announced they will ballot their members on further industrial action this summer.

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NEU senior regional officer for the North West, Michelle Greaves, said teacher retention was one of the biggest issues faced by the profession.

She would like to see any discussions with the Bury North MP be fed back to Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan. 

She said: “Teachers don’t want to go on strike, it’s the last resort.

“We went to James Daly’s office so that we could talk to him about the strikes.

“I would like him to say that he is in favour of a fully funded above inflation pay rise for teachers.

“There is an issue with recruitment and retention, teachers are leaving the profession, there is a huge potential recruitment and retention crisis.

“If the government doesn’t fully fund these roles, it will be to the detriment of the children."

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Ms Keegan added that teachers are not staying in the profession after qualifying, and new recruits are leaving within their first five years on the job.

She also says teachers are being asked to cover subjects that are outside their specialist subject area.

She said there could be further strike action from teachers later this summer after exams have taken place in late June or early July but says the union is "hoping to avoid that".

Michelle said: “If we don’t attract and recruit teachers into the profession we’re going to be in a position where we are going to lose teachers, it’s the children who will suffer.”

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The Department for Education (DfE) says its latest pay offer, made in late March, would have significant new investment for schools to fund pay rises and commitments to reducing workload by five hours a week.

In a statement on the DfE's Education Blog, a spokesperson said: "The decision [to reject the pay offer] is disappointing and means less money for teachers this year and possible disruption to students preparing for exams.

"Our priority is making sure children get the education that they deserve and do not have to face further days of disruption, especially as public exams approach."

It added that the pay offer would have been fully funded to help schools cover the costs. 

In response, Mr Daly said: "We have made a fair and reasonable teacher pay offer to the unions, which recognises teachers’ hard work and commitment.

"Next year, school funding will be at its highest level in history – per pupil, in real terms.

"We know schools are facing increased costs like energy and staffing, and are providing an extra £2 billion in each of the next two years to cover those costs.

"As a result, school funding is set to rise faster than forecast inflation in both 2023–24 and 2024–25.

"The NEU representative who has contacted me is not a resident of Bury North.

"My staff have explained that they should contact their own MP about the issue due to Parliamentary protocols but I remain open to meeting with NEU members who are residents of our constituency."