NI school principals to consider industrial action

File photo dated 03/12/03 showing primary school pupils during a lesson.
File photo dated 03/12/03 showing primary school pupils during a lesson.
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A union representing school principals is to ballot members in Northern Ireland about industrial action.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has said it has served legal notion of its intention to ballot members.

A spokesperson said: “The areas of dispute focus on workload, the inspection process, consultation and support for schools.”

NAHT(NI) President Geri Cameron said: “The past eight years have placed school leaders under intolerable strain. Continued industrial action by teaching staff during this time, coupled with a lack of a functioning executive for the past three years, have pushed NAHT(NI) members to their limit.

“School leaders’ efforts to keep schools going have been taken for granted. Our members have been left over-worked, under-valued and without protection and support in their time of greatest need. They have now begun the new school year with no change on the horizon.”

In a statement, NAHT NI said it believes there “is no alternative but to escalate our efforts”.

A spokesperson said: “The employing bodies have been given very fair warning — employers were advised in January 2019 that NAHT(NI) carried out an indicative ballot in which members indicated overwhelming support for industrial action.

“There is a demonstrable depth of feeling amongst principals and vice-principals across Northern Ireland that now is the time for action.”

Union leader Geri Cameron continued: “We are extremely disappointed that the Department of Education (DENI) and the employing bodies have not managed to find a way to end our dispute.

“We believe that, if the will is there, the employers can make the necessary changes to improve the work life of school leaders. NAHT (NI) members are operating in extremely difficult and unique conditions.

“They have been supporting the education service tirelessly since teachers’ action began in 2011. The current inaction on the employers’ part could potentially lead to school leaders across Northern Ireland also taking industrial action.

“Whatever action we may take will be directed towards the employers and we will work towards minimising any impact upon learners and their families. Of course, we hope that employing bodies will provide a meaningful response to help bring this dispute to an end before we go to ballot.”