The risk of nationwide school closures has increased after teachers overwhelmingly backed strikes in a dispute over pay.

Bosses at the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said 94 per cent of members who took part in an online ballot opted to reject a 5% pay offer, with 91% indicating their willingness to take strike action in pursuit of a better deal. Turnout was 78% - well above legal thresholds.

The union, which represents eight out of ten Scottish teachers, will formally reject the pay proposal next week and move to a statutory strike ballot shortly thereafter.

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General secretary Andrea Bradley said: “This is an overwhelming ballot result which demonstrates, very clearly, the collective view of Scotland’s teachers with regard to their pay.

“The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government must do better. Teachers have simply had enough of the year-on-year struggle to achieve a fair pay settlement, with local authorities and the Scottish Government repeatedly dragging their feet and offering sub-inflation level pay settlements.

“The current offer, of 5%, represents a real-terms pay cut of 7% for teachers, yet employers have lauded this as a generous proposal.

“Our members are acutely aware of the soaring cost of living and are feeling its damaging impact on themselves and their families. This is unacceptable. Now COSLA and the Scottish Government need to fix it.

“The message from today’s ballot result is very clear: we are not going to accept this pay proposal, and we are prepared to take strike action in pursuit of a fair pay settlement.”

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EIS president Andrene Bamford added: “Our members have responded magnificently throughout our pay campaign so far. They have voted in huge numbers in the consultative ballot and have made their feelings crystal clear.

“As we move ahead with the statutory ballot, we will need every member to step up again and vote for strike action. The government’s anti-trade union laws are designed to frustrate collective trade union action and to make achieving a legal mandate for strike action extremely difficult.

“We need every EIS member to use their vote for strike action in the forthcoming statutory ballot as we continue our fight for a fair pay deal for all of Scotland’s teachers.”

The Scottish Government has stressed that it is for local government, as the employer, to make any revised pay offer. A spokesman said previously: "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 declined to comment.