OPINION - Nobody seems to care about ending this teaching strike

·2-min read
OPINION - Nobody seems to care about ending this teaching strike

THOUSANDS of children are once again stuck at home today after negotiations to end the teachers’ strike have ended in a standstill.

While teachers are becoming ever more furious, there is a stony silence from the Department for Education.

The leaders of the National Education Union, whose members are on strike today, have directly challenged Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to re-start talks but the stand-off continues. They have not sat around the table since March 23.

Ms Keegan, who has previously said she will not negotiate until strike action is paused, has been accused of washing her hands of the matter.

But something has to give. GCSEs, A-levels and SATs are just weeks away and there is the threat of more strikes in the summer term and even into the next academic year.

All major teaching unions have rejected the Government’s offer of a £1,000 one-off payment this year and a pay rise of 4.3 per cent for most teachers from September.

Clearly there needs to be some compromise.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, has said it is Ms Keegan’s “inaction” and “silence” that has left teachers reluctantly embarking on two more days of strike action.

But there is one group of people that are not silent, and who are involved in high-level negotiations — working


Countless last-minute calls to babysitters, bosses, friends or grandparents have been made by frantic parents trying to patch together childcare to cover the strike days.

Negotiations and compromises have been made all day by those able to work from home, as iPads and snacks have been given in exchange for a moment’s peace to get some work done.

In this stalemate situation it seems to be parents who are picking up the administrative burden of the strikes.

Of course it is families who are already struggling the most that are hit the hardest by the strikes. Parents on zero hours contracts who will lose money to stay with their children. Vulnerable children left home alone. Youngsters struggling to catch up after Covid missing yet more classroom time.

Where is the sense of urgency to find a solution to this problem? Every effort should be made to restart talks before more damage is done.