The issue of striking teachers has become a hot-button topic in many countries worldwide. With rising pressures from administrators, governments, and parents, teachers are pressured to take drastic measures to get their voices heard. As discussions regarding teacher strikes continue to gain prominence in public discourse, it is essential to examine both sides of the debate and understand the critical points before making any decisions.
Will teachers strike in England?
Many strike ballots will soon be revealed, providing insight into how workers feel about their current working conditions.
The NASUWT’s ballot, covering personnel in schools and sixth-form colleges across England and Wales, was concluded on the 9th of January. The NAHT union representing head teachers and other school leaders had their poll close two days later, reaching an end on the 11th of January.
With 300,000 members located in England and Wales who are not all necessarily teachers, the largest education union -the NEU- completed its survey three days after that on the 13th.
Last but certainly not least is The ASCL (Association for School And College Leaders) which consulted with its associates to decide whether or not they would carry out an official election.
Teachers from five unions in Northern Ireland are continuing their course of action, which is short of a strike but impacts meeting attendance and administrative tasks.
This effort has been joined by lecturers and other university staff across the UK who have taken to striking due to unresolved grievances on pay, pensions and working conditions.
Why Will Teachers Strike?
In Scotland, teachers have taken a firm stance on the pay issue, rejecting an offered 5% wage increase and pushing for 10%.
Although there was later an offer to raise salaries to 6.85%, intended to avert strikes over the holiday season, it was derided by the EIS – Scotland’s largest teaching union – as “insulting”.
Teachers are determined to receive their fair share financially and recognition for their valuable work in educating our children.
Despite teachers in England and Wales receiving a 5% rise for 2022, unions argue that more than this increase is needed to combat inflation levels higher than 10%, thus resulting in lower wages.
Representatives advocate for more funding for schools to ensure these pay increases don’t come at the expense of existing school budgets.
Meanwhile, many teachers in Northern Ireland have been offered 3.2% rises over 2021/22 and 2022/23 periods – yet again proving inadequate when considering increasing inflation rates throughout the region.
By September 2023, English teachers can anticipate a salary of £30,000 annually. Currently, classroom instructors’ average wages in the 2021/22 school year stand at an assured rate of £38,982 in England – compared with Wales and Scotland’s respective payments of £39,009 and £40,026.
Northern Ireland has yet to specify their fixed figure for this position. The mean pay for head teachers is much higher than other senior leaders: approximately three-quarters (£74 095) more than that (£57 117).
In light of the UK’s current climate of teacher shortages, unfilled vacancies and competition from alternative job opportunities, experts have been petitioning the government for increased educator salaries.
Will Schools Close If Teachers Strike?
In Scotland, local councils are the ones who ultimately decide. In England and Wales, head teachers have an ultimate say in staffing decisions with no minimum requirements. Headteachers must also consult with local authorities before making final decisions in Wales.
This action was taken in response to unfeasible workload pressures on teachers and financial constraints, which forced some schools to let go of staff despite increasing student numbers.
Can I Get Time Off Work?
Do you have a dependent, such as a child? If so, your right is to take time off work if the usual arrangements are disrupted. However, this does not guarantee remuneration in England, Scotland and Wales.
There may be an option for unpaid parental leave that needs to be discussed ahead of time- and typically taken within week blocks. Understandably, money allocated from England will ultimately determine funding set aside for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This week, teachers in Scotland are set to stroll out after the current negotiations with the government fell apart.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), united with the NEU, NASUWT and SSTA organisations, intend to strike on the 10th and 11th of January because they refused an offer that would have given the lowest-earning members a 6.85% uptick in wages.