Teacher pay: How schools dealt with teacher strikes

Teacher pay: How schools dealt with teacher strikes

Teachers gave priority to vulnerable students and exam classes yesterday as teachers’ strikes led to some schools being closed or partially closed.

Data from the Department of Education that day suggested 54 percent of schools restricted attendance and 9.3 percent of those were closed entirely.

told the school management Tess how they prioritized students who needed to attend and how they managed the rest of their school’s offering.

With more strike dates planned for the coming weeks, school leaders said they could become “more proficient” in dealing with the disorder and potentially expand their offerings, although some school leaders expect more teachers could be involved.

Ahead of the first day of strikes, there were big differences across England and Wales in the level of disruption expected.

While many maintained schools had notified the Local Authority (LA) of their projected operational status by Tuesday, some were still conducting risk assessments. Additionally, the academies were not required to report their prospective status to the LA.

For example in North Somerset, the LA said Tess that some schools were unlikely to be affected by their own staff strikes, but because the employees’ own children are affected by strikes in the schools they attend.

Meanwhile, Norfolk LA said so expects 121 partial and 29 full school closures.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), who has 36 schools in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, told Tess the All their academies should be open, 12 partially open.

However, there were some indications from yesterday that school leaders had to refocus their offerings on the day, with more staff than expected free.

How were students prioritized?

The exact proportion of students that schools were able to accommodate yesterday varied widely between different campuses, but in general it appeared that schools’ first priority was to serve vulnerable students first, followed by exam years.

This ties in with the DfE strike guidelines, which state that schools “Apply the principles set out in the Contingency Planning and Contingency Guidelines by giving “priority to vulnerable children and young people and children of critical workers”.

Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis Community Learning, which has 52 schools, said schools across the Trust have been affected, each to “varying degrees”, with a range of offerings but with “at least some service for all”.

He said on the other end, the “scope” of what schools can manage means they only provide a service for vulnerable children and for the children of key workers.

Robin Bevan, the principal of Southend High School for Boys and former president of the NEU teachers’ union, said the school was closed to everyone except Year 12 students, who were supported at school.

Trinity Academy Trust CEO Michael Gosling wrote on social media that in his trust of 10 schools, six were open to all students, three to just under half and one to about a quarter of the students.

“Where a partial closure has been necessary, we have prioritized vulnerable students, exam cohorts and/or younger students for childcare reasons,” he said.

What kind of learning did the schools offer?

Of the schools that were open, many were unable to provide a full range of education.

Wayne Norrie, CEO of the 37-school Greenwood Academies Trust, said that of 25 primaries across the trust, 14 are fully open, eight are partially open and three are closed except for at-risk children.

He said his secondary schools are only open to at-risk children and grades 11-13, but that this is intended for self-supported learning rather than classes.

He added: “Some of these students may not have a suitable space to study or work to prepare for their exams at home, so we have offered this to them.”

Niall Bradley, chair of the National Supply Teachers Network, said schools that open without traditional instruction are represented in the work offered to its members.

“It appears that the schools that opened were only partially open – with a primary focus on grade 6 and a secondary focus on grades 11 and 13, and many lessons were covered with non-conspicuous teaching assistants rather than being taught by them become qualified teachers,” he said.

Mr Bradley added that many supply workers who made themselves available to do the work never received a call to do so and that a member of the network who was running late informed his agency and told him not to bother do to participate.

Warren Carratt, CEO of Nexus MAT, a trust of special schools, said only about 50 percent of sites in the MAT are fully open, but of those that aren’t open, some have offered childcare for the day, although the school said : “not to be opened for educational purposes”.

This is shown by data from distance learning provider Oak National Academy 282,280 students used the service yesterday — more than 17 times the average daily student enrollment in January 2023. It’s also double the daily peak in 2022 thanks to Omicron (130,545).

Mr Carratt said that in terms of working online, the Trust had given families some resources they could use to teach, but added: “With special education, the nature of learning limits what you do can offer remotely. So we realize there are limits to what we can do.”

Rob McDonough, CEO of East Midlands Education Trust, said schools in the group had opened up to at least Year 11, Year 6 and vulnerable learners and that there had been “no one-size-fits-all approach” to other pupils. in relation to distance learning, although some have been offered via preset work.

What do schools expect next time?

Schools described how yesterday they tended to offer less if unsure how they would be affected by strikes.

Striking teachers are not required to tell their school that they are on strike or if they are in a union, so the impact of any action was unclear until yesterday.

Mr McDonough said: “[It] As there would always be an intelligence gathering day, we advised school leaders unsure of the impact of strikes to play it safe – especially in primary schools you can’t send students home once the day has started.”

Trust executives suggested that next time they would be more proficient in handling industrial disputes.

“We will take stock of what happened and decide what else we may be able to do on future dates. But of course we hope that there are positive talks with the government beforehand to settle the dispute,” added McDonough.

Mr Norrie said the disruption at his schools was less than expected: “If I’m honest I expected it to be more disruptive but none of my staff have been pressured one way or the other – we’ve been very neutral in our approach. “

Mr Chalke said schools across the Trust would “become more practiced” as more strike dates came and minds “would know what worked”.

He said at the moment it was not clear to him whether future strike action would take place: “I am not sure what will happen. We hope that the government will sit down and talk about the problems.

“Things won’t change until they do. Governments show no uncertainty. But they are changing course, as we saw with Marcus Rashford’s campaign during Covid.

“The cause of the NEU is right and good – it is driven by concern for the quality of education for children.”

In fact, Mr Bevan said he expected the strikes could be bigger next time, as non-participating teachers could be spurred on to show support for the NEU after seeing colleagues striking.

He said: “Everyone – leaders or teachers – will hope that we do not have more days and a solution is on the horizon, but the government’s response is deeply worrying. Apparently they didn’t know how significant the answer would be.

“If further action is taken then I think it could be bigger as the teachers have seen what happened and feel like they want to show support but I expect we are okay with what we are in related to what our school has to offer, continue.”

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