HAMPSHIRE schools are bracing themselves for a fresh wave of teachers’ strikes this summer.

The National Union of Teachers has voted to stage further industrial action including a national walkout in the summer when thousands of students will be taking exams.

The announcement ahead of pupils returning to lessons after the Easter Holidays is the latest blow in the bitter row over pay, pensions and conditions.

Delegates at yesterday’s annual conference in Brighton backed a motion calling for strike action in the week beginning Monday, June 23, if “significant” progress is not made in resolving the long running dispute.

Members will launch a mass lobby for June 10 and have not ruled out more than one day of action, with the resolution leaving the door open for further action in the autumn.

Pete Sopowski, NUT representative for Southampton, defended the action, claiming most exams would be over by then.

He said: “We don’t want to close any schools and we are not going to scupper children’s chances in exams – but we are entitled to stand up for pay, pensions and contributions.

“We have two choices in the face of the Government: give up action or step up action.

“My feeling is that most members will want to continue to step up the action.

He added: “The strikes will continue to happen and may accelerate unless Michael Gove and the government listen.”

The NUT opposes Mr Gove’s plans for performance-related pay and increased pension contributions at a time when staff are buckling under increased workloads and severe stress. Mr Sopowski also criticised Mr Gove’s plans to let schools hire unqualified teachers and added: “You expect to have a qualified doctor, nurse or lawyer, so why not a qualified teacher?”

The other biggest classroom teachers’ union, the NASUWT, has also threatened to take industrial action in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The Department for Education has previously condemned the union’s strike action, saying it disrupts families and holds back children's education.