Schools across Scotland could be forced to close after teachers overwhelmingly backed strike action in a pay dispute. 

The country's largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), revealed 96 per cent of members who took part in a ballot voted in favour of taking strike action. Turnout for the vote was 71%. 

The union, which represents eight out of ten Scottish teachers, said members "have had enough of waiting" for an acceptable offer from Cosla and the Scottish Government. 

General Secretary Andrea Bradley claimed members have faced "months of unjustifiable dither and delay" from the two bodies and have become "increasingly angry over their treatment by their employers". 

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She warned that strike action could start this month if they do not receive a "greatly improved pay offer". 

Commenting on the ballot, she said: "This ballot result provides the EIS with an extremely strong mandate for strike action over pay.

"Our members have sent yet another very clear message to their employers in Scottish local authorities and to the Scottish Government that they must do better on teachers’ pay.

"Our members should have received a pay increase in April but, after months of unjustifiable dither and delay from Cosla and the Scottish Government, we are still waiting for an acceptable offer to be made.

"Quite frankly, our members have had enough of waiting and enough of feeling the financial strain of the cost of living on top of the significant stress of their teaching jobs.”

A previous 5% pay offer was overwhelmingly rejected by union members, with 94% of employees opting to refuse the deal. 

Union bosses will meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss further steps in their fight for a pay rise, including an initial programme of industrial action in schools. 

Ms Bradley added: "A move to strike action is always a last resort, but our members have become increasingly angry over their treatment by their employers and by the Scottish Government.

"The last pay offer, a sub-inflation 5%, was rejected by Scotland’s teachers almost three months ago.

"Since then, there has been no new offer made, despite a strong desire on the part of teachers for a fair deal to be struck.

"In the current context – with the cost of living soaring, and prices of food and fuel, housing and heating continuing to climb ever higher – our members are neither willing nor able to accept a deep real-terms cut to their pay.

"Cosla and the Scottish Government really must now pay attention to Scotland’s teachers and they must come back with a greatly improved pay offer if strike action starting this month is to be avoided.”

A Cosla is working with the Scottish Government to bring forward a "revised offer".

A spokesperson said: “Scottish Local Government values its entire workforce, of which teachers are a key part.  Making an offer that is affordable and enables Councils to protect the whole of Education services and ultimately improve outcomes for children and young people.

"Along with Scottish Government, we are working closely and at pace to ensure a revised offer can be brought forward. We will remain in active discussions with our Trade Union partners.”

Meanwhile, teachers are also expected to walk out over violent and abusive behaviour from a small number of pupils at a Glasgow school. 

Members of the NASUWT teachers union at Bannerman High School in Ballieston will take 12 days of strike action after the council was blamed for failing to take action and "placing the safety of teachers at serious risk".

However, the council has said senior management and the local authority have been working to offer "extensive, ongoing support". 

The union claimed pupils have physically shoved and shouted at teachers and threatened to assault members of staff. 

Other examples of unacceptable behaviour listed by the union include property being stolen and the building itself being damaged with a screwdriver.

Members have been instructed to refuse to teach pupils who are known to be threatening and abusive, but the council warned this could be "seen as victimisation of young people with significant needs".

NASUWT said teachers had been told they could be sent home without pay if they refuse to stay in classrooms.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: "The position that has been outlined by the NASUWT is an inaccurate reflection of the extensive, ongoing support by the council and senior management at the school and it is deeply upsetting that the school is once again being dragged through the media.

“The safety of our staff is taken very seriously and additional measures have been in place at the school to meet the needs of the teachers and support staff in the ASL base and the refusal to teach by some members can only be seen as victimisation of young people with significant needs.

“The school has a ratio of one teacher to every three pupils in the base as well as pupil support workers with individual support plans for young people. 

“Our legal view was made clear to the NASUWT that refusal to teach an individual young person would be considered breach of contract and have consistently engaged with the union and will continue to do so.”