During my 34 year career as a teacher I only went on strike twice, once whilst I was a member of the NAS/UWT and once as a member of the NUT.
For teachers, strike action is very much a last resort – not something that they take lightly.
Now though, fed up with being fobbed off year after year, teachers have voted to take action this year. This is not just about pay, it is about funding for education that has been eroded over the years. Schools increasingly have to depend upon PTAs to pay for essential resources. That's fine in areas where parents are well off but not so good in deprived areas.
In the NEU 90.44% out of 53.27% of its members voted to strike. Over 90% of NAS/UWT members also voted to strike but unfortunately they failed to reach the required 50% of members voting.
Although NEU members will be striking for 7 days during February and March, individual schools will only be affected on 4 of them.
- Action will start on the 1st February when 23,400 schools in England and Wales will be affected.
- On the 14th February just schools in Wales will be affected.
- The 28th February it will be the turn of schools in Northern, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber regions.
- On 1st March it will be schools in East Midlands, West Midlands and Eastern regions turn.
- The 2nd March schools in London, South East, and South West regions that will be targeted.
- Finally, on the 15th and 16th March, all schools in England and Wales will see strike action.
Unsurprisingly, Downing Street have called on the unions to call off any strike.
No 10 said that teachers should not strike and inflict "substantial damage" to children's education, especially after so many missed out on schooling during the pandemic.
Schools have been told they can use volunteers to stay open. I sincerely hope no headteacher is foolish enough to try and replace teachers with untrained and unvetted members of the public. I also hope that members of other unions do not volunteer to cover for their absent colleagues.
NUT = National Union of Teachers
NAS/UWT = National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers.
PTA = Parent Teacher Association
NEU = National Education Union