A ‘heads-up’ for the community about the potential for strike action by teachers. The ballot by the largest union, the NEU, closes today (Friday 13th Jan) and is expected to strongly support strike action in February and March. The ballot of the other main union, the NASUWT, did not attract the necessary 50% response. The majority of our staff are NEU, so we would anticipate some disruption if the ballot does turn out that way. The likelihood would be at least partial closure.
As well as the NEU and NASUWT, the famously moderate Headteachers’ union, the NAHT, has made an unprecedented call for members to supoprt strike action. Again, the results of a ballot are due shortly.
None of our staff would want to inconvenience the community or prevent children from attending without what they see as very good, ethical cause. The ballot is partly around pay – teaching and support staff have experienced a real-terms pay reduction of over 20% since 2010. The has had a hugely negative effect on the profession; recruitment is difficult (we just cannot find teachers at times) and retention similarly – 25% of new teachers leave the profession within five years.
All staff appreciate that these are difficult times for all and that many in the community would be grateful for any much needed increase in income. We all appreciate that we have enviable conditions of employment that have been fought for over many decades. Our staff are a socially aware, caring collection of people and would all want a better deal for all of society, not just themselves. However, they can only act with regard to their own situation and with the support of their own unions.
The key issue though is around school funding; the small pay increases to staff made in 2022 are not funded. There was no increase in budget to cover them. This, along with the cost of living situation, has left many schools in dire financial circumstances, which negatively effect the future for them and their children. In our own case, we have stabilised our finances and are in a healthy position, but we have not been able to provide as much additional support to children as we would have wished this year.
Hopefully, the sitation will pass and a resolution can be found short of strike action. Rest assured we will do all we can to minimise any impact, whilst still respecting the democratic rights of union members.