An SNP minister has refused to say if more cash could be found for teachers in a bid to prevent further strikes – which have already closed schools across the country.

Talks are taking place on Friday between unions and the government, as further and higher education minister Jamie Hepburn insisted the pay rise offered to teachers was “fair and fundamentally an affordable offer”.

The deal on the table would see most staff in classrooms receive a five per cent pay rise, although the lowest-earning teachers would get a 6.85% increase.

READ MORE: School strikes: Councils announce closure plans on strike days

And Mr Hepburn said combined with other pay rises it would mean salaries for “most teachers” have increased by 21.8% since since 2018.

Teachers, however, have rejected the offer, with unions pressing for a 10% rise.

With members of the EIS, NASUWT and SSTA trade unions all due to strike next week – affecting primary schools on January 10 and then secondary schools on January 11 – Mr Hepburn was pressed on whether more cash could be found.

Asked directly if teachers would be offered more money, the minister said a “very fair and affordable offer” had been made.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, he stressed rising inflation meant the Scottish Government budget was now worth less than when it was set, adding that the requirement on ministers to ensure a balanced budget meant that “we don’t have fiscal latitude”.

READ MORE: Scottish school strikes: Full list of dates and closures by council

Speaking about the proposal made to teachers, Mr Hepburn stated: “If you actually look at what we have offered, it is 6.85% uplift for the lowest paid teachers, 5% for most and £3,000 for those earning £60,000 or more.

“That would representative a 21.8% cumulative pay increase for most teachers since 2018.

READ MORE: Number of Scots teachers drops despite £200m recruitment fund

Asked if this was the final offer, Mr Hepburn stated: “Discussions will continue, but this is a fair and fundamentally an affordable offer and it would ensure that teachers in Scotland remain by some measure the best paid teaching staff in the UK.

“We want to make sure we have that edge for teachers in Scotland and the offer we have got on the table would ensure that.”