Teachers threw down the gauntlet to an incoming government today - warning of a national strike ballot if it did not reverse education cuts in its first autumn statement.
Delegates to the National Union of Teachers' annual conference in Harrogate voted overwhelmingly in favour of using the autumn statement as a trigger for industrial action over cuts.
A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that - whichever party (or parties) wins the election - schools will face cuts of up to 12 per cent because party pledges fail to take account of rising pupil numbers, increases in pensions and national insurance contributions and salary increases.
Ian Murch, the union's treasurer, warned that there would be a "night of the long knives in every school" with teachers' and support staff's jobs being cut and class sizes rising.
"We will not let a generation of children be sacrificed on the altar of austerity," he added.
Anne Lemon, executive member from North Somerset, said: "We must say clearly now with their funding plans for education - if there's no change (by the autumn statement) that's the trigger for action.
"The NUT is not going to wobble. It must give our members confidence that the union will fight back."
The Conservatives have said they will keep education spending on five to 16-year-olds at its present level for the next five years while Labour and the Liberal democrats have pledged it will rise in line with inflation for all sectors - including early years and post 16 education as well.