More than 100,000 teachers went on strike in England and Wales at the beginning of February, forcing an estimated 85 per cent of schools to close as unions call for pay rises and better working conditions.
More walk-outs are scheduled to take place later this month, after all members of the National Education Union (NEU) voted in favour of industrial action in both countries.
Teachers in Scotland are planning another programme of strike action, which is set to continue through March and April.
So, when are the teacher strikes? Why are they striking? And will schools close again? Here’s everything you need to know.
When are the next teacher strike dates?
The next spate of industrial action in England and Wales will see teachers walk out for two days on March 15 and 16.
A strike in Wales, which was scheduled for February 14, was postponed as negotiations continued between the NEU and Welsh government officials.
However, the NEU rejected a pay offer from the Welsh government and the strike went ahead on March 2.
In Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) had announced 20 days of rolling strikes over the course of 20 days – between Monday, March 13 and Friday, March 21, but have suspended their strike action after receiving a pay offer which would give them a 14.6 per cent pay rise over 28 months.
Andrea Bradley, the general secretary of the EIS, said they would recommend that members accept the offer.
Will schools close?
It is likely that many schools will be forced to either close or partially close.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “I think a majority of schools will be affected by the dispute – some of them with full closures and many more with partial closures.
“Some secondary schools will be completely closed, others will have particular year groups in and a similar pattern in lots of lots of primary schools.”
The Department for Education (DfE) had said on its Education Hub blog: “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.”
It has published guidance in order to “minimise disruption to children and families”.
Union members are not required to inform their employers if they plan to strike. Schools will decide how to handle strike days in their region on an individual basis, and should contact parents and guardians in advance with arrangements.
Why are they striking?
Pay is the biggest bone of contention for the teachers strikes. The NEU is demanding a pay rise for its members of 12 per cent, rather than the 3.5 per cent offered by the Government so far for most teachers.
Unions argue that teachers’ pay has fallen by almost a quarter in real terms since 2010, and that the profession faces a recruitment and retention crisis fuelled by low salaries.
However, the NEU has said the strikes are “not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts”.
“The average 5 per cent pay rise for teachers this year is some 7 per cent behind inflation. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation,” the organisation tweeted.
“It’s disappointing that the government prefers to talk about yet more draconian anti-strike legislation, rather than work with us to address the causes of strike action.2
Dr Mary Bousted and Mr Courtney, the NEU’s joint general secretaries, have also previously added: “Teachers are leaving in droves, a third gone within five years of qualifying.
“This is a scandalous waste of talent and taxpayers’ money, yet the Government seems unbothered about the conditions they are allowing schools and colleges to slide into.”