Talks continue as schools face Teachers strikes
More talks between government officials and unions are taking place as schools prepare for teachers’ strikes. Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the two sides are expected to spend six hours discussing “pay but also other issues such as workload and the conditions of teachers in schools. Earlier this week, teachers from the NEU union voted in favour of strike action in England and Wales.
Seven days of strikes will take place in February and March. National and local strikes in Scotland have already begun. Mr Gibb told BBC Breakfast that the government is negotiating with teachers, but said there are concerns about “inflation-busting pay settlements” which would mean embedding inflation into the economy “for the long term”.
On her way into the meeting, general secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted said there is no indication that the government is willing to negotiate, and that “there is no new money on the table”.
She added that “the pay award for next year is 2% and clearly that is completely insufficient, not only to correct the cost-of-living crisis now, but also to correct the long-term decline in teacher pay over the last 12 years.”Schools in England and Wales are preparing for their first national strike day on 1 February. In England, head teachers will decide whether their school needs to close.
Teachers do not have to stick to the curriculum on strike days, according to government guidance. So children could face changes to their lessons even if schools stay open. Tyrone Myton, the principal of Shirley High School in Croydon, south London, is currently trying to get a picture of what strike action might look like in his school.
He wants to keep the school open on strike days but as union members do not have to declare if they are striking or not, it is difficult to plan ahead. Mr Myton says it is important to prioritise vulnerable students, those whose parents work in the public sector and exam-year students.
“We are trying to take steps to minimise disruption for students who are sitting exams in 10 weeks’ time, and some have already started exams,” he explained. “This is for the rest of their lives, so you have to do all you can.”
He says he hopes there will be an agreement soon, but believes that in order to prevent further strike action by teachers, better pay for new teachers and support staff must be addressed.
In other news – Rishi Sunak’s failure to wear a seat belt is to be investigated
Lancashire Police are “looking into” Rishi Sunak after he was filmed not wearing a seat belt while a passenger in a moving car. The prime minister has apologised for the incident, saying it was an “error of judgement” to take his seat belt off to film a social media clip. Not wearing one carries a maximum £500 fine.
Mr Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and apologises”, his spokesman told reporters. The spokesman added the PM “believes everyone should wear a seat belt”. Learn more