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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Teachers' strikes latest: Everything you need to know about strike action in schools

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The National Education Union (NEU) has announced two additional strike days in schools in England on 5 and 7 July.

Earlier this year, teachers in England rejected a pay offer from the Government that would have seen salaries rise by 4.5% on average next year, alongside a one-off payment of £1,000 for this year (2022 to 2023)

Members of the National Education Union (NEU), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and NASUWT voted to turn down the offer in April.

The offer included significant new investment for schools to fund pay rises and commitments to reducing workload by five hours a week.

The NEU, ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT are all balloting their members for industrial action in schools in England in the Autumn Term.

Teacher pay for next year is now going through an independent pay review process as usual.

The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) makes recommendations on the pay of teachers in England and reports to the Secretary of State for Education and the Prime Minister.

As is normal, the STRB will look only at pay for next year, meaning teachers will not receive a one-off payment for this year (2022 to 2023).

What was the offer that was put to unions?

The pay offer followed a week of intensive talks between unions and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.

The offer included a one-off payment of £1,000 for the current academic year, on top of the 5.4% average pay rise teachers received in September 2022.

Teachers and leaders were also offered an average pay rise of 4.5% from September 2023. This is above the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast for inflation at the end of this calendar year, which is 2.9%, with inflation forecast to fall further next year.

The starting salary for new teachers outside London would have risen by 7.1% to £30,000.

The unions also rejected an offer to create a new taskforce to help reduce workload by an average of five hours a week for teachers and leaders.

Was the pay offer fully funded?

Yes – schools would have been fully funded to meet the costs of the offer.

This included an additional £620 million of funding in 2023 to 2024, to pay in full for the one-off payment of £1,000 for each teacher (pro-rata for part-time teachers) and enable schools to pay salary increases that go above the funding they have already received. All schools have received significant additional funding as part of the extra £2bn of investment we are providing both this year and next. Thanks to that funding, a 4% teachers’ pay award is already affordable for schools, nationally. The additional funding offered in March covered costs above this.

The Government’s judgement of the affordability of teacher pay increases is, as usual, based on national figures, which equate to the position for an average school.

School funding is set to rise faster than forecast inflation in 2023/24 and 2024/25.

Next year, school funding will be at its highest level in history – in real terms – as measured by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), following the additional £2bn of investment for both 2023/24 and 2024/25 in the autumn statement.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data shows the UK has been the highest spender in the G7 (Group of Seven - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the United States) on schools and colleges delivering primary and secondary education as a share of GDP, in each year between 2010-11 and 2019-20, the latest available data. (OCED’s latest data refers to the 2019-20 academic year and can be found here:)

The IFS also published an assessment of schools’ funding and costs. You can read more about the details of the offer here.

Will there be more strikes and when are they?

The NEU has planned strike action for:

  • Wednesday, 5 July (England)
  • Friday, 7 July (England)

Previous strike action by the NEU took place on:

  • Wednesday, 1 February (England and Wales)
  • Tuesday, 28 February (Northern, North West, and Yorkshire and Humber regions)
  • Wednesday, 1 March (East Midlands, Western, Eastern regions)
  • Thursday, 2 March (London, South East, South West regions and Wales)
  • Wednesday, 15 March (England and Wales)
  • Thursday, 16 March (England and Wales)
  • Thursday, 27 April (England)
  • Tuesday, 2 May (England)

NASUWT and NAHT members were also striking in Northern Ireland only on April 27.

Will schools be closed again if teachers go on strike?

In the event of strike action at a school, the school leaders or local authority that manages the school will take all reasonable steps to keep the school open for as many pupils as possible. We have produced updated guidance to help them do this and to minimise disruption to children and families.

In some schools there may be little or no impact from strike action but in others it may mean that changes are made to the way they operate. Schools will usually let parents know how they are being affected but if you are unsure, you should contact your child’s school.

Unless school leaders inform you that the school is closed or cannot provide a place, then you still have a legal duty to send your children to school unless they are unwell.

The Education Secretary is encouraging teachers to inform their school leaders in advance whether they intend to take strike action or not, to help schools and families plan ahead.

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