Teachers' strike: When could they walk out and will schools be shut?

  • The UK's biggest teaching union has voted to strike for seven days between 1 February and 16 March

  • Teachers will join hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in other areas who are striking over pay

  • Education secretary Gillian Keegan is set to meet union bosses on Wednesday

  • Read more about the latest round of industrial action

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 16: Striking school teachers gather outside the Glasgow City Chambers for a rally following picketing outside schools on January 16, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. The EIS has also organised 16 consecutive days of action starting from Monday 16 January, that will see teachers strike across Scotland in a staggered fashion. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A growing number of teachers are set to go on strike due to disputes over pay. (Getty Images)

Members of the UK's biggest teaching union have voted to stage strikes at schools across England.

The National Education Union (NEU), which has around 300,000 members, announced it had reached the threshold to strike on Monday follows disputes with the government over pay.

Roughly nine out of 10 NEU members voted for walk outs.

It comes on the same day members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) commenced their 16 days of strike action.

MPs are in the process of assessing the government's new anti-strike bill, which would see the right to strike for public sector workers, like teachers and nurses, curtailed.

Read more: Tory MP brands government’s anti-strike bill ‘shameful'

Why are teachers striking?

The main sticking point for teachers is that pay has not kept up with inflation for more than a decade, leaving teachers facing real terms pay cuts.

The NEU warn pay has fallen 24% in real terms since 2010, and that this is having a negative impact on recruiting and keeping staff.

With inflation now at around 10%, the NEU are requesting a 12% pay rise. However, the government is offering 5%.

“We have continually raised our concerns with successive education secretaries about teacher and support staff pay, and its funding in schools and colleges, but instead of seeking to resolve the issue they have sat on their hands," said Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint NEU general secretaries.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 13: British Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan leaves after attending the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, United Kingdom on December 13, 2022. (Photo by Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Education secretary Gillian Keegan is due to meet with unions on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

The union leaders said historic real-terms pay cuts for teachers has created an “unsustainable situation” in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

Bousted and Courtney added: “It continues to be the aspiration of the NEU and its membership that this dispute can be resolved without recourse to strike action.

“We regret having to take strike action, and are willing to enter into negotiations at any time, any place, but this situation cannot go on."

Ahead of the NEU's announcement, a Number 10 spokesperson said: “We would continue to call on teachers not to strike given we know what substantial damage was caused to children’s education during the pandemic and it’s certainly not something we want to see repeated."

Read more: Schools to bring back online lessons and Covid-style classes if teachers strike

When are the strikes happening?

Teachers will strike on seven days between 1 February and 16 March, but the NEU has said any individual school will only be affected by four of the days.

The first day of strikes will be on 1 February, and more than 23,000 schools in England and Wales are expected to be affected, the NEU has said.

Ahead of the ballot, Bousted said it is unlikely that the NEU would strike during examination dates.

"I don't think teachers would do that, or want to do that," she said.

The walk-out on 1 February will coincide with strikes by 100,000 public sector workers across 124 departments.

Watch: UK industrial action: What strikes are coming up?