A threatened strike by primary school teachers may be averted after both sides in the pay dispute agreed to start mediation today.

Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary of Early Learning and Student Achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the ministry had agreed to enter mediation today with the NZ Educational Institute, which has claimed a 16 per cent pay rise over two years.

The ministry had offered to increase pay, in the majority of cases, by between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent a year for three years.

"Both parties wish to explore every possible avenue to reach an agreement," MacGregor-Reid said.

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"We value the work principals and teachers do and progressing these negotiations is a priority."

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said the union agreed to enter mediation "in an effort to explore all avenues".

"Negotiations are ongoing, and we are entering into the mediation in good faith," she said.

"Members will continue with a ballot on a full day strike on August 15, which concludes today at 6pm. Any outcome of the mediation will be taken back to NZEI members for their consideration."

Teachers have already voted to strike for two hours on August 15 but are voting on whether to extend the strike to a full day.