NEU members in England and Wales have voted to take strike action on seven dates in February and March. The strikes will take place on three national dates, and four regional dates affecting schools and pupils around the country.
The NEU, the biggest teachers and education union in the UK, say the strikes will affect 23,400 schools in England and Wales, and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she is planning to meet union leaders this week. According to Department for Education guidance, head teachers are expected to take “all reasonable steps” to keep disruption for pupils to a minimum and to keep schools open.
While head teachers also voted to take strike action, the NAHT union’s ballot failed to reach the legal minimum required 50% turnout threshold in England - this means head teachers in England will not be able to legally partake in the same strike action as their teacher colleagues . The union has said they are considering re-running the ballot saying disruption was caused by the postal strikes. Head teachers in Wales will however take strike action as the ballot threshold was reached there.
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Coutrney said that among the teachers who voted to take strike action, 90% in England and 92% in Wales voted in favour. Support staff also voted to take action, but failed to meet the 50% turnout threshold in England.
Joint NEU general secretaries, Kevin Courtney and Dr Mary Bousted, announced the ballot turnout saying: “This is not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts.
“Teachers have lost 23% in real terms since 2010, and support staff 27% over the same period. The average 5% pay rise for teachers this year is some 7% 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.”
Most teachers across England and Wales received a 5% pay increase last year, but the NEU union says that counting to inflation, this pay rise actually equated to a pay cut. There is also a concern that many teachers are leaving the profession.
When are NEU teachers in England and Wales striking?
Teachers strike action will take place on the following days:
- February 1: All schools in England and Wales
- February 14: All schools in Wales
- February 28: North and north-west England, Yorkshire and Humber
- March 1: East Midlands, West Midlands, and the NEU’s eastern region
- March 2: South-east and south-west England, and London
- March 15 and 16: Two-day strike of all schools in England and Wales
According to the NEU, no individual school will be affected on more than four dates in total.