Teachers’ strike: Why are they striking and when are the February strikes?

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  • February 1, 2023
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Teachers’ strike: Why are they striking and when are the February strikes? thumbnail

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ore than 100,000 teachers are will strike in February and March, in support of their demand for a fully funded, above-inflation wage increase.

The Government declared last summer that starting salaries would increase by 8.9 per cent, while most teachers would receive pay increases of approximately five per cent.

The National Education Union (NEU), which is the largest teaching union, will strike for seven days over February and March. The decision came after nine out of 10 teacher members voted for strike action back in January.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), and other unions are also planning to join the action.

Thousands of schools are expected to be impacted and parents might have to take days off work or make childcare arrangements as a result of it.

When are the teachers going on strike?

Teachers in England and Wales will go on strike on seven different days across February and March. These are:

  • February 1: All schools in England and Wales
  • February 24: All schools in Wales
  • February 28: Schools in north and north-west England, Yorkshire and Humber
  • March 1: Schools in East Midlands, West Midlands, and the NEU’s eastern region
  • March 2: Schools in south-east and south-west England, and London
  • March 15 and March 16: All schools in England and Wales

NAHT members will also hold action short of a strike (ASOS) from February 1, which will see headteachers refuse meetings after 5 pm, not get involved in any staff appraisal or redundancy processes, and refuse to engage with school inspectors Estyn.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, teachers will strike across two local authorities per day until February 6.

The EIS and two other unions have also revealed that they will be walking out on February 28 and March 1. They will also hold 20 more strike days between March 13 and April 21.

And, in Northern Ireland, most teachers will be walking out for half a day on February 21.

Why are teachers going on strike?

Teachers are striking because of a dispute over pay. NEU members want a pay rise of 12 per cent, but the Government is offering a pay rise of just 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 nine 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.

What has the Government said?

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.”

What have teachers’ unions said?

Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretaries of the NEU, said: “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.”