Sixth-form teachers face legal challenge over funding strike

Updated: 

Sixth-form teachers planning a strike on Tuesday to protest at "inadequate funding" are facing a government challenge over the legality of the action.

The National Union of Teachers saw 1,689 members vote to strike for a day over cuts and the effect it says reduced funding will have on the most disadvantaged students.

But the the Department of Education has said that it will seek to prevent the strike in the High Court on Monday, according to the BBC.

In a ballot in February, 86% of members voted in favour of action on a 44% turnout.

Members were asked: "In order to persuade the Secretary of State for Education to increase presently inadequate funding levels which cause detrimental changes to terms and conditions within the sixth form college sector, are you prepared to take a day's strike action?"

A Department of Education spokesman told the BBC: "The NUT is seeking to disrupt the education of thousands of students through what we believe to be an unlawful dispute, based on political grounds and not a trade dispute about the terms and conditions of its members.

"The NUT is seeking to disrupt the education of thousands of students through what we believe to be an unlawful dispute, based on political grounds and not a trade dispute about the terms and conditions of its members."

As a result the spokesman said the Government was planning to challenge the move in the courts.

When the result of the ballot was announced, Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said funding had already been cut in real terms by 14% and further real-terms cuts of 8% were now planned.

He called the situation "untenable" and said: "This strong ballot result shows the strength of feeling amongst sixth-form college teachers.

"Sixth-form colleges provide a vital service to over 150,000 young people, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds."

In response to the Government's plans, he told the BBC: "We regret that the Government has chosen this route rather than seeking to resolve the dispute through negotiations about adequate funding for the sector, which could protect teachers' conditions of service and students' conditions of learning.