Striking teachers to march past Gillian Keegan's office this week
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Members of the National Education Union (NEU) will be holding days of strike action today (Wednesday, July 5) and Friday (July 7).
“These strike days continue our campaign to win a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise,” an NEU spokesperson said.
"In early April 2023, a pay and funding offer from government was rejected by 98 per cent of NEU members on a 66 per cent turnout. Our sister unions held similar votes with equally compelling results. The message to education secretary Gillian Keegan was loud and clear.”
A re-ballot of NEU teacher members in state schools opened on May 15 and will close on July 28.
Across the southeast region, union members will be ‘marking the strikes with pickets and rallies’ – in London and Oxford on Wednesday before expanding the action further afield on Friday.
For NEU teacher members in England’s state schools, next week marks their seventh and eighth day of strike action since February 1. Teacher members in sixth form colleges took an additional day of action in November 2022. The most recent strike day for teachers was on May 2.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This strike action will see the cancellation of end of term events and important transition days to secondary schools, impacting children and causing more disruption for parents.
“We hugely value the work of teachers. Schools are receiving significant additional funding as part of the extra £2bn of investment we are providing for both 2023/24 and 2024/25 which will take school funding its highest level in history next year, as measured by the IFS.
“As part of the normal process, the independent School Teachers’ Review Body has submitted its recommendations to government on teacher pay for 2023/24. We will be considering the recommendations and will publish our response in the usual way.”
Maria Fawcett, regional secretary of the National Education Union, said the decision to take further strike action was made with ‘great reluctance’ but ‘teachers have been left with no choice’.
She added: “In stark contrast to Wales and Scotland, where settlements were reached months ago, the Government of England is intent on dragging its heels. Gillian Keegan has refused to engage and refused to meet with the education unions, in spite of the vast majority of teachers rejecting her initial pay and funding offer at the start of April.
“We want to find a solution but it seems the Government is more interested in political games. Having insisted that we must follow the advice of the School Teachers’ Review Body, Rishi Sunak and his Education Secretary are now saying the opposite.
"It is increasingly likely that the recommendations of the STRB for 2023/24, delivered to Keegan weeks ago, will not be followed. It is believed that the review body has recommended a 6.5 per cent rise for teachers but she intends to suppress this unpalatable report until the end of term.
“In moving the goalposts, the government is infuriating teachers and letting pupils down.
“There is a crisis in education. Schools and colleges are haemorrhaging staff, and those who remain are having to work unacceptably high numbers of additional hours in return for pay which continues to worsen in value.
"The Government's latest teacher census shows that a third have left the sector within five years of qualifying. They are missing their own training targets as a matter of routine, and teacher vacancies are up by 55% in just twelve months.
“The Government’s latest position is to let this continue, and to deliver yet another real-terms pay cut upon teachers.
“Gillian Keegan and Rishi Sunak should be aware that our dispute is not fading away. Members of the NEU are voting right now in a re-ballot, to extend our campaign into the autumn if no resolution on pay and funding is reached with Government. Education unions ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT are also balloting members on the same issues for strike action in the autumn term. This is not a good climate for Rishi Sunak to reject the review bodies after months of hiding behind them. It will simply embolden teachers to vote for further strike action.
“Gillian Keegan can avert strike action by publishing the STRB report and restart talks to find a serious solution to the dispute.”