Dealing with strike action in schools

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17 January, 2023

Jonathan Holden
Partner and National Head of Employment

On the 16 January 2023, the NEU announced that their members had balloted for strike action and unlike the NASUWT ballot, the required thresholds had been met.

The strike action is set to affect schools across England and Wales on numerous dates throughout February and March, with the first date set as soon as 1st February 2023. The NEU have taken this step to send a strong message over teachers' pay and lack of funding in the education sector.

As this is the first widespread industrial action in a number of years in the Education sector, Education settings may be unaware of some of the practical issues which come about during industrial action.

Some schools may see little to no impact from the planned strike action, but for others it will mean that schools have no option but to consider changes to the way they operate.

The Department for Education have issued updated guidance to assist schools in taking all reasonable steps to remain open for as many pupils as possible.

However to best deal with the disruption schools should come up with a plan as soon as possible in how to deal with the industrial action. You should consider:

  • What strike dates will you be affected by? Whilst some of the strike dates are national, others are regional and you should understand what dates you are affected and those you are not;
  • Try and determine how many staff are to be absent on the set strike dates;
  • Consider how you will cover those absences. Can lessons be taught by other members of staff or classes be brought together? If large numbers of staff are set to be on strike you may need to consider restricting attendance for some pupils. In this case consideration should be given to which pupils are to be prioritised;
  • Who are your NEU representatives and agree lines of communication to try and deal with matters effectively;
    • What do you need to know by the start of strike action that you don't know?
    • Do you know the rules around what information you will be provided?
    • Do you know what the rules are around non-NEU members striking?
    • Do you know how to deal with picketing?
    • Do you know what to do about deductions from pay for striking staff?
    • Do you know what the position is around hiring agency staff?

To try and assist schools with some of these questions regarding industrial action our education experts will be holding a Q & A session on Thursday 19 January 2023 where they will talk more about the planned strike action and everything you need to know. If you would like to book your free place, please click here.

For more information contact Jonathan Holden in our Education department via email or phone on 01772 220396 / 07976 278888. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Education department here

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