This year we have seen Teachers from the Union NEU take part in strike action across England. These took place across six days in February and March already this year, with more ahead on Thursday 27th April and Tuesday 2nd May. More than 50% of schools closed or restricted attendance on the national strike days according to data from the Department for Education. So, how will the Teacher strikes affect Supply Teachers and why are they happening?
Why are Teachers continuing strike action?
The Teachers Unions are looking for wage increases to sit above inflation. They are also looking for extra money for schools so that any extra pay does not put more pressures on tight school budgets.
The government’s initial offer was an average increase of 5% from September 2022. Despite this, strikes continued. The follow up response from the government was then an additional £1.000 one-off payment this year, and a 4.3% pay rise for most staff next year.
Unions have argued this is is “insulting” and so the strikes are set to continue.
The starting salary for teachers in England is also due to rise to £30,000 a year by September 2023. All four unions involved in the dispute (NEU, NAHT, the NASUWT, ASCL) have rejected the offer as they claim that Teacher pay has actually fallen by as much as 23% since 2010. If a better deal cannot be reached, more strikes will take place, which also includes 3 further strike days for both NEU and ASCL Union members aimed to land in the summer and autumn term respectively.
What does our Government think about the Teacher strikes?
The Department for Education has said it was a “fair and reasonable offer” and that schools would receive an extra £2.3bn over the next two years. The government have said that they believe schools can afford to fund most of the 4.3% pay rise through money already promised in the Autumn Statement.
They have also stated that they would have provided some additional money to fund the remainder of it and to fund the £1,000 one-off payment.
How do the recent Teacher strikes affect Supply Teachers?
Some Supply Teachers may be booked into long term bookings within schools and may have decided to participate in the strikes. This is, of course, a personal decision. As with staff employed directly with education authorities and academies, it is likely they will not be paid for the days they are absent due to the strikes.
Supply teachers have to decide if this is something they are happy to do and make a decision as to the financial impact this will have.
What happens if my school forces closure due to the Teacher strikes?
In general terms, Supply Teachers (along with other temporary staff supplied by agencies) only get paid for the work they carry out. If the school closes or their role is affected by the strike meaning they are not required for work, then they are unlikely to be paid. Any pay is at the discretion of the school.
Understandably, this is frustrating for Supply Teachers who depend on the income. If your school is forced to close due to strikes (and you are in a long term booking) we will ask the school on your behalf if they are willing to honour your pay. Unfortunately, this is unlikely.
Could there be more work for Supply Teachers during the Teacher strikes?
From 7th July 2022, schools can cover absence due to strike action with supply staff following the repeal of Regulation 7.
Therefore, Supply Teachers can be asked to cover for Teachers who are taking part in strike action. This could mean that Supply Teachers are in high demand on teachers strike days.
This will all depend on the school, which Teachers are participating in the strikes and how much notice they give their employer. It is worth noting that a school cannot request a striking Teacher to prepare work for their class, which could mean you are booked for cover where there is no planning left in advance.
The school will do its best to support supply teachers in these situations, but thinking on your feet and coming prepared for the unexpected is a must!
How have the strikes impacted work at System People this year?
On the main, the strikes have not greatly affected our Supply Teachers who work for us at System People.
In February the days lost due to forced closures were recouped from extra bookings to cover open schools who needed extra assistance. This work was preferentially offered to the workers affected by the strikes where possible.
The March strike days had more of an impact and some of our Supply staff lost a day of work. We do not anticipate much disruption on Thursday 27th April and Tuesday 2nd May, but we will continue to communicate with you on this if anything changes.
Can I get some advice?
Please be rest assured if your usual booking is affected by a strike day your consultant will contact you as soon as they find out. However, if you have questions about this, please contact our Education team on 01228 530554.
Find out more about the strikes from the Department for Education here.
Check our most recent vacancies here.