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Families face disruption as teachers in England stage fresh strikes over pay

End-of-year activities and transition days are set to be disrupted amid the latest wave of walkouts by National Education Union members.

Children and parents face more disruption on Wednesday as teachers in England go on strike again in a long-running dispute over pay.

Sports days, school trips and transition days for pupils are set to be disrupted as a result of the walkouts by teacher members of the National Education Union (NEU), with another day of action planned for Friday.

Picket lines will be mounted outside schools and sixth-form colleges across England, and striking teachers will march in Westminster in London before taking part in a rally in Parliament Square on Wednesday afternoon.

It is the seventh day individual schools in England have faced walkouts by NEU teacher members this year.

Education union leaders have warned that further strike action in the autumn term is likely if the ongoing pay dispute remains unresolved.

The Government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year (2022/23) and an average 4.5% rise for staff next year after intensive talks with the education unions earlier this year.

But all four education unions involved in the dispute rejected the offer and the decision on teachers’ pay in England for next year has been passed to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).

There are fears that pupils could miss out on end-of-year activities – including concerts, school trips, sports days and opportunities to meet new classmates – during the two strike days this week.

A poll by Teacher Tapp, of 6,952 teachers in England on June 19, found that only a third said there were no transition days, trips, sports days, concerts or performances, or work experience placements scheduled for the strike dates.

UK strikes in July
(PA Graphics)

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Teachers do not want to strike. They want to be doing what they do best – teaching and supporting their pupils.

“We regret the disruption caused to education by our strikes and we support the rearrangement of transition days where possible – as some local authorities such as Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire have confirmed.

“We grant exemptions to members involved in school trips that cannot be rearranged.

“However, the disruption to children and young people’s education occurs daily due to the running down of our education service by Government. This cannot go on.”

The NEU – alongside the NASUWT teaching union, the NAHT school leaders’ union and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) – are currently balloting their members in England to take action in the autumn.

Dr Bousted added: “Even at this late stage, Gillian Keegan has it in her power to stop the strike action. She could restart talks with the education unions, publish the STRB report and its pay recommendations and fully fund a decent pay rise that begins to address the recruitment and retention crisis.

“With education unions ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT and the NEU all balloting members for strike action in the autumn term, the Education Secretary must be in no doubt that failure to resolve this dispute will result in strike action across the school and college sector this September.”

Members of the NEU went on strike across England on February 1, March 15 and 16, April 27 and May 2, and regional walkouts took place between February 28 and March 2.

During the most recent strikes on May 2, Department for Education (DfE) data suggests that 50% of state schools in England were open but restricting attendance and 5% were fully closed.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This week’s strikes are a problem of the Government’s making through its neglect of education and refusal to resume formal negotiations with unions.

“Unless the Government changes its approach then there will likely be further strikes in the autumn term.”

On Tuesday, education union leaders called on the Ms Keegan to urgently publish the STRB’s pay recommendation as they warned the hold-up is causing “anxiety” in schools and “frustrating headteachers”.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “We have repeatedly called for the Government to publish the STRB’s pay recommendation for next year and to restart negotiations. It is in their hands to end this strike action, but they are refusing to engage.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “Any strike action is hugely damaging. We have made a fair and reasonable pay offer to teachers, recognising their incredible work and commitment.

“Thousands of schools received significant additional funding as part of the extra £2 billion of investment we are providing both this year and next.

“As a result, school funding will be at its highest level in history next year, as measured by the IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies).”

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