The UK education system is facing a huge challenge as the National Education Union (NEU) gears up for its first day of strike action on Wednesday. This is significant for parents across the country, as it’s expected to impact over 23,000 schools in England and Wales and potentially affect millions of students. The NEU has made it clear that if the government doesn’t budge on offering a decent pay rise for staff, the strikes could go on for months, even into the summer term.
The talks between Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and union leaders didn’t go as planned and failed to resolve the issue. The union leaders aren’t happy with Keegan, as they feel she missed a chance to call off the strikes by not taking the pay issue seriously enough. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, most teachers in England have only been offered a 5% pay rise, which is actually a 5% pay cut in real terms when you consider the decade of wage squeeze and inflation.
It’s not just the education sector that’s facing strikes, as the UK is also experiencing a major civil service strike. The NEU has announced six more dates of rolling strikes up until March 16, and the possibility of further walkouts in the summer is still there.
The strikes will have a big impact on schools, which may have to close, merge classes, or even shift to online lessons if they don’t have enough staff to teach safely. This will add extra stress for parents who are already dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
And as if the education strikes weren’t enough, the UK is set for a historic day with nearly half a million workers from various industries going on strike. That’s right, from teachers and university lecturers to train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers, and security guards, this industrial action is poised to be the biggest in over a decade. The workers have tried every other avenue, but their demands have gone unheard, so they’ve decided to come together to make their voices heard and bring attention to their grievances.
For the most part, there appears still to be support for the rights of workers and little sign of any conclusion to strikes across sectors. Where does that leave parents and children across the UK? Well it seems, many will be back to online learning from home for many children albeit for many parents, as of this morning (the day of the strike), many parents don’t know if their child’s school will be open and many will rely on support from the employers to enable child care provision.
Our son is currently in his GCSE year and like many older children, he will be in school today, hopefully with a fairly normal school day ahead. We are perhaps more fortunate than many in this case, we can only hope that there are further talks and a conclusion to strikes to support all workers rights and enable our children to focus on their exams.
Danielle is a co-founder at Study Hat and writes regularly on the Study Hat blog. With a 15 year old son herself, she knows only too well how challenging it can be for both parents and children navigating school life whilst also being a working mum.
“I love contributing to the Study Hat blog, we’ve all been on wild education journey over the last few years. My big dream is that the Study Hat platform helps parents, schools and children in reaching their goals and that it enables children to be in the position to excel and choose their path in life with confidence in their abilities.”