School pupils will miss lessons this week as teachers walk out after last-ditch talks between Scottish Government officials and teaching unions failed to prevent strike action.

Primary schools around the country are shut as teaching union members there take strike action on Tuesday, while staff at secondary schools will walk out on Wednesday in a dispute over pay.

A meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), which brings together unions, local authorities and the Scottish Government, took place on Monday in an attempt to avert the strikes.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), NASUWT, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) and Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) are now taking strike action.

Teachers strikeMembers of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) took strike action last year (Jane Barlow/PA)

The action this week comes after SSTA and NASUWT members took two days of strike action in December while EIS members walked out on November 24.

Discussions were previously held on Friday, which Scotland’s Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville described as “constructive and helpful”.

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She had previously urged union members to “reconsider their plans for industrial action while talks are ongoing”.

However unions said if there was no new offer then strike action would go ahead.

The current offer would see most staff in classrooms receive a 5% pay rise, although the lowest-earning teachers would get a 6.85% increase.

Unions have demanded a 10% increase.

Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland national official, said there is still “quite a distance” between what is currently on the table and what teachers are looking for.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We can’t forget the fact that that last offer that was made in November, which was dressed up as an improved offer, was only really an improved offer for those at the bottom of the salary scale, it remained for the vast majority of teachers the 5% offer that had been around for some months and had been firmly rejected by all.

“There’s still no formal revised offer on the table and that is the real reason why our members and others feel they’ve got no alternative but to be out on strike again today and tomorrow.”

Asked whether the union would be prepared to settle for somewhere between what they are being offered and 10%, he said: “I think what would need to happen first of all is there needs to be a properly improved offer tabled and – we are a member-led union – if we get what we deem to be a decent offer then it’s up to our members to decide what they think about it, but we’re just not at that stage at the moment, although there are some grounds for optimism, the fact that there have been talks on Friday and Monday and there’s been a little bit of progress made.”

EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said: “The SNCT negotiating meeting, held today (Monday) following a request from teacher unions, did not result in any new pay offer from the Scottish Government and Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

“This means that strike action, planned for Tuesday in primary schools and for Wednesday in secondary schools, will proceed as scheduled.”

“It is disappointing, though not surprising, that no new offer was presented today, despite some positive progress in discussions.

“The union side remains willing to talk, at any time, with a view to reaching a resolution to this dispute.

“While it is now too late to halt this week’s strike action in schools, we hope that fresh talks may take place later this week to advance discussions towards an improved offer.

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“Only a significantly improved offer from the Scottish Government and Cosla can bring an end to this dispute.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the meeting on Monday provided a crucial opportunity to further discuss potential areas for agreement.

“While there was a shared understanding that today’s talks were focused on examining options for compromise, rather than tabling a new offer, dialogue was constructive,” he said.

“The Scottish Government continues to urge teaching unions to reconsider their plans for industrial action while talks are ongoing.

“Strikes in our schools are in no-one’s interest – including for pupils, parents and carers who have already had to deal with significant disruption over the past three years.

“We value our teaching workforce and recognise the vital importance of an agreement on pay, but we cannot escape the unprecedented pressures facing Scotland’s budget.

“While we have been clear that a 10% pay increase is unaffordable within the Scottish Government’s fixed budget, we remain absolutely committed to a fair and sustainable pay deal.”

Seumas Searson, general secretary of the SSTA, said: “Members are taking part in the strike this week to send a hard message to the employer and Scottish Government that teachers demand to be respected and receive a professional salary that will act to retain teachers in Scottish schools.”