Teachers’ strike 2023: NEU members walk out for second day this week over pay dispute

NEU members are going on strike on Friday - second time this week - over an ongoing dispute over pay with the government.

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Teachers in England are walking out again on Friday (July 7) for the second time this week over an ongoing pay dispute with the government. Members of the National Education Union (NEU) first walked out on Wednesday (July 5) in the latest wave of industrial action that has taken place since February.

The union members previously turned down a pay proposal from the Government that included a one-time payment of £1,000 and an average salary increase of 4.5% for the following year, with starting pay reaching £30,000 but all four teachers’ unions involved in the dispute rejected the offer.

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The timing of the strike action by the union however received criticism from members and school leaders, saying that it would clash with the end-of-term events, including transition days when pupils starting secondary education in September are given the chance to visit their new school.

Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union, said: “Unlike her counterparts in Scotland and Wales where the pay disputes have been settled, this Education Secretary has wilfully turned her back on teachers in England.

“No one wants to take strike action but when faced with an Education Secretary who clearly has no interest in settling this dispute, teachers are left with no option.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has also called for the union to consider the national picture. The unions’ rejection means the £1,000 cash payment is off the table. Next year’s pay has been considered by the independent pay review body and is being looked at by the government.

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According to the BBC, teachers’ salaries in England fell by an average of 11% between 2010 and 2022, after taking inflation into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says. Unions claim pay has fallen by as much as 23% in that time.

The Office for Statistics Regulation has also recommended the Government to make it clear that this applies to the overall national picture rather than particular schools, and that the offer is fully funded on average across England.

Striking teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) hold a rally in Parliament Square on 5 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. NEU members are striking to win a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise for all educators. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)Striking teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) hold a rally in Parliament Square on 5 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. NEU members are striking to win a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise for all educators. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Striking teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) hold a rally in Parliament Square on 5 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. NEU members are striking to win a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise for all educators. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

According to the NEU, most schools could not afford it without making other cuts, meaning that it is not completely supported.

Teachers’ strike days in 2023

The first teacher strike took place at the beginning of February 2023. These are the strike days so far:

  • 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)
  • Wednesday, July 5 (England)
Striking teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) hold a rally in Parliament Square on 5 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. NEU members are striking to win a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise for all educators. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)Striking teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) hold a rally in Parliament Square on 5 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. NEU members are striking to win a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise for all educators. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Striking teachers from the National Education Union (NEU) hold a rally in Parliament Square on 5 July 2023 in London, United Kingdom. NEU members are striking to win a fully-funded, above-inflation pay rise for all educators. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

What happens when teachers go on strike?

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The school’s administrators or the local authority in charge will take all reasonable steps to keep the school open for as many students as possible. The government has issued instructions to assist them in doing so while minimising disruption to children and families.

Strike action may have little or no impact in certain schools, but in others, it may necessitate changes in how they run. Schools normally notify parents about how their children are affected, but if you are unsure, you should contact your child’s school.

The guidance says: “It is best practice for headteachers to consult governors, parents and the Local Authority, academy trust or diocesan representative (where appropriate) before

deciding whether to close or restrict attendance.

“Headteachers are entitled to ask staff whether they intend to strike. It is important that parents or carers are notified at the earliest opportunity if their child is unable to attend school due to industrial action.”

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When the first series of strikes took place on February 1, more than 90 per cent of schools remained open to some or all pupils and even more stayed open during regional strikes on February 28, March 1 and 2.

However, teachers are not obliged to say in advance whether they are striking, and there are no rules on when parents must be informed about closures.

How much do teachers get paid?

In the 2021-22 school year, classroom teachers in England were paid an average of £38,982, £39,009 in Wales, and £40,026 in Scotland. Northern Ireland provided no figures.

For the same time period, the average head teacher pay in England was £74,095, with other senior leaders earning £57,117.

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Experts advise ministries on teacher pay, taking into account issues such as vacancy rates and subject shortages. Money allocated in England is distributed proportionally to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as is the case with all public spending.

Employers contribute an additional 23.68% to teacher pensions. Nurses, on the other hand, receive 14.38%.