When is the next teachers’ strike? NEU stage fifth walkout of the year

When is the next teachers’ strike? NEU stage fifth walkout of the year

Thousands of teachers in England who are members of the National Education Union (NEU) took part in their fifth strike of the year earlier this month.

Tens of thousands of teachers have walked out previously to demand improved pay and working conditions amid the cost of living crisis.

The NEU announced the latest round of strikes after rejecting the Government’s “insulting” pay offer on April 3.

So when are teachers next on strike? Here’s all you need to know.

When are teachers going on strike?

Teachers in England went on strike on May 2, after turning down the Government’s latest offer.

There are currently no more walkouts planned, however the NEU is considering three further days of strike action in the summer term.

Previous strike action by the NEU took place on:

  • Wednesday, February 1 (England and Wales)

  • Tuesday, February 28 (Northern, North West, and Yorkshire and Humber regions)

  • Wednesday, March 1 (East Midlands, Western, Eastern regions)

  • Thursday, March 2 (London, South East, South West regions and Wales)

  • Wednesday, March 15 (England and Wales)

  • Thursday, March 16 (England and Wales)

  • Thursday, April 27 (England and Wales)

  • Tuesday, May 2 (England)

Department for Education data showed 47 per cent of all schools in England were open during previous strikes, but restricting attendance.

There were strike exemptions in place for vulnerable children and children in Years 6, 11, and 13 who were preparing for exams.

The Government said in some schools there would be little or no impact from strike action, but that in others there may be changes to the way they operate.

It added that schools would usually let parents know how they are being affected but you should contact your child’s school if you are unsure. Teachers are not obliged to let their school know if they are striking beforehand.

The BBC reported that the dispute had ended in Scotland as unions have accepted a seven per cent rise for 2022-23, backdated to April. They have also accepted a five per cent rise in April 2023, and a two per cent one in January 2024.

The BBC reported that in Wales, teachers from the NEU had agreed an increased pay offer of eight per cent for 2022-23 (a 6.5 per cent increase in annual pay, plus a one-off payment of 1.5 per cent). They have also agreed a five per cent increase in annual pay for 2023-24.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in Wales has rejected the offer, the BBC says. The union is calling for talks to resume, and says funding arrangements remain a major concern for school leaders.

Why are teachers striking?

Teachers are striking because of a dispute over pay. NEU members want a pay rise of 12 per cent, but the Government offered an increase of only five per cent.

The union argues that teachers’ pay has fallen by 24 per cent since 2010, due to inflation.

The Government is also refusing to provide funding to cover the pay rises. But the union said it would consider a pay rise of 9 per cent, should the Government fully fund it.

The NAHT also wants pay increases, as well as progress on school funding, workloads, and recruitment and retention processes.

Do teachers get paid if they strike?

Some unions may provide sustentation payments or hardship funds for those taking part in strikes.

However, the NEU said it would not be doing this. It said that the NEU Trust Fund was “set up to support members and their families who are suffering hardship for other reasons”.

“We will not be paying strike pay so you will receive a deduction of salary for any days we are on strike,” an NEU statement said. “You will likely have a day’s pay deducted from your wages for each day’s strike action.

“Teachers in local authority-maintained schools will lose 1/365th of annual pay, while other members may be subject to other deductions which may be specified in their contracts.”

This means that, for every day a member of teaching staff strikes, they will lose money from their monthly pay cheque.

Even for unions that may have offered sustenation payments, this does not cost 100 per cent of the strike pay reduction. As such, teachers will often still lose some money regardless.

What has the Government said about the teachers’ strikes?

The Government offered teachers a one-off £1,000 payment this year and a 4.3 per cent pay rise in 2024. It also said starting salaries would rise to £30,000 from September. However, 98 per cent of NEU members voted to reject the deal.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the outcome was “extremely disappointing”. She said that the rejection “will simply result in more disruption for children and less money for teachers today”.

Ms Keegan said an independent pay review body would decide salaries and pay rise recommendations for next year. She said the £1,000 one-off payment offer would also be off the table.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There are no great schools without great teachers, which is why we are making the highest pay awards in a generation — five per cent for experienced teachers and more for those early in their careers, including an 8.9 per cent increase to starting salary.

“We are also investing an additional £2 billion in schools next year and £2 billion the year after, taking school funding to its highest ever level.

“After two years of disrupted education for young people, strike action is simply not a reasonable solution.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on April 3 he was “extremely disappointed with the actions of the NEU teaching union”. He added that the union had been offered a new pay deal “worth about 8eight per cent, on average”.

He said: “In spite of all of that… the NEU has rejected that and announced new strike dates, which will be enormously damaging to our children, whose education has already suffered in the face of Covid.”

What have teachers’ unions said?

Dr Mary Bousted, the co-head of the NEU, apologised to parents facing another day of their children off school, but said teachers were striking for the future of education.

She told BBC Radio 4: “This is not an education service which is able to function properly any more because of the ongoing crisis in our schools. Members would not be taking strike action, when they’re already inadequately paid, if they felt there was any alternative. We want to negotiate. We want to end this dispute.”

Dr Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretaries of the NEU, said in a separate statement: “This is not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts.

“Teachers have lost 23 per cent in real terms since 2010, and support staff 27 per cent over the same period. The average five per cent pay rise for teachers this year is some seven per cent behind inflation. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation.

“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.”