Scottish teachers have moved a step closer to all-out strikes amid claims that staff feel as if they are little more than “glorified childcare workers”.

The executive committee of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) revealed it had unanimously voted to open a consultative ballot on the latest pay offer. It will also seek views on potential strike action in pursuit of an improved settlement.

The online vote will open immediately and run until September 16. EIS bosses are recommending that members reject the current 5 per cent offer and support possible strikes.

Andrea Bradley, EIS general secretary, said: “We are urging all of our members to use their vote in this important ballot, to reject the insulting pay offer from employers, and to vote ‘yes’ to potential strike action in pursuit of an improved pay settlement.”

She continued: “Teachers are increasingly angry that their pay is not keeping pace with the soaring cost of living, as inflation reaches unprecedented levels, and are impatient for the union to take action on their behalf.

“The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirm that the RPI rate of inflation in August was 12.3%, while the CPI rate was 10.1%. ONS figures also indicate a 96% rise in gas prices, a 54% increase in electricity prices, and an average 20% increase in the cost of many basic foodstuffs. This is the context in which local authorities are offering a 5% pay settlement – far below the rising cost of living and, effectively, a deep and painful real-terms pay cut for Scotland’s hardworking teachers, some of whom are already experiencing in-work poverty.”

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Ms Bradley also insisted that the 10% pay claim submitted by the EIS was measured, evidence-based and “unequivocally deserved”.

She added: “It is time for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government to stop playing political games, and to work constructively to deliver a fair pay settlement for Scotland’s teachers.

“EIS members can collectively increase the pressure on employers and government by using their vote in this important ballot, rejecting the totally inadequate pay offer, and delivering an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action.”

Teachers are being asked to vote on potential strike action as a pay dispute continues.Andrea Bradley, EIS general secretary, said the union's 10% pay claim was evidence-based and "unequivocally deserved".

Meanwhile, the NASUWT union said Scottish members had rejected the 5% offer in a snapshot survey. The poll, which received 582 responses, found 82% did not believe the proposal was fair given rapidly intensifying cost of living pressures.

Union leaders have confirmed that the decision to reject will be formally conveyed to employers at next Tuesday's meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).

One NASUWT survey participant said: “The status of teachers is well below what it used to be and many feel we are now glorified childcare workers.

“Teacher pay is pathetic in comparison to other professions and even becoming less favourable than other jobs, with less hours, responsibility and where pay is comparable. Many young teachers are completing their probationary year then leaving. M&S and Aldi are becoming more appealing.”

Another said: “I and some of my fellow colleagues are struggling financially for the first time and it is truly scary. All of my monthly pay is going on necessary living expenses. I can no longer save, I can no longer afford to go out to eat or grab coffee with a friend, I can no longer afford a holiday, and I’m honestly unsure if I will be able to heat my house this winter.

“As a result of this, my mental health is suffering and I’m frightened. I am considering my options [for] leaving teaching and even leaving the UK, and it is very much dependent on what is to come in the foreseeable future. I am a design and technology teacher and there is already a massive shortage in Scotland. If I decide to leave teaching and/or the UK, it will leave another vacancy which may never be filled.”

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Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said members had been "clear in demanding that we reject the imposition of a below-inflation pay award".

He added: “This pay offer is yet another pay cut for teachers which will cause even greater damage to the morale of the profession.”

Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland National Official, said: “The impact of being expected to shoulder yet another real terms pay cut is having a detrimental impact on teachers, with three-quarters of respondents to our survey saying a 5% pay award would have a negative impact on their morale.

“It’s time employers and ministers started to demonstrate that they value teachers for the vital and skilled work they do by giving them a pay award that will enable them to weather the cost of living crisis and begin to address the years of real-terms pay erosion they have experienced.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting a fair pay offer for teachers through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, the body that negotiates teachers’ pay and conditions of service.

"It is for local government, as the employer, to make any revised offer of pay. Industrial action would not be in anyone’s interest, least of all learners and parents. This Government has a strong record of support for teachers, and the 5% offer would mean that teachers received a cumulative pay increase of 21.8% since 2018.”

COSLA has been contacted for comment.