Two teaching unions have been divided over plans for sixth form college strikes next month.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) will not join National Union of Teachers (NUT) members in demonstrations over pay and pensions.

The NUT is due to strike on March 26, but the NASUWT executive voted on Friday (February 14) to keep its options open instead, saying Education Secretary Michael Gove had shown “goodwill” by agreeing to sit down for talks later this month.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Teachers will expect the Secretary of State to show that he is seriously committed to building trust and confidence with the profession by demonstrating in these meetings that he is prepared to listen to and address teachers’ deep concerns.”

She added: “We will expect the Secretary of State to recognise the enormous damage that has been inflicted on teachers as a result of the changes to teachers’ pay, pensions, conditions of service and job security since 2010.”

Strikes had been expected to hit sixth form colleges last week, but were put back to next month.

Graham Baird, HR director at the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association, said: “On behalf of sixth form colleges the SFCA has been monitoring the NUT position on the proposed strike action.
“The announcement that the proposed strike action is now planned March 26, rather than mid-February, at least provides additional time to allow for discussions to take place between the union and government to try to avert the proposed action.”

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “Mr Gove’s persistent refusals to address our ongoing dispute over pay, pensions and conditions of service, is unnecessary and deeply damaging.
“As a result, thousands of good, experienced teachers are leaving or considering leaving the job and a teacher shortage crisis is looming with two in five teachers leaving the profession in their first five years.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The unions called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and those talks will begin shortly.
“It is disappointing that the NUT, unlike NASUWT, has decided to press ahead regardless with unnecessary strike action, which will only inconvenience parents and damage children’s education.”