How could parents and children be affected by the teachers' strikes?

Some schools are due to close their doors to all pupils on Wednesday as a result of the strikes. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Teachers in England and Wales who are members of the National Education Union (NEU) will take part in walkouts on Wednesday which threaten disruption to more than 23,000 schools.

The walkouts, which could see more than 100,000 teachers go on strike, is the first of seven days of action planned by the NEU in February and March.

Teachers are joining university staff, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards who will all strike on Wednesday in what is set to be the biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade.

Here, we address the key questions about the teachers’ strike.

What are schools doing?

Some schools are due to close their doors to all pupils on Wednesday as a result of the strikes, with children told to stay at home.

Other schools will be partially closed so they can prioritise children who would benefit most from in-person teaching, such as those sitting exams as well as vulnerable pupils and key workers’ children.

In some schools, there may be little or no impact from strike action and they will remain open.

Headteachers will carry out risk assessments to work out whether their schools can open safely with reduced staffing numbers.

Last week, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the NEU, said the union is expecting “lots of schools” to close in areas where the NEU has a large representation – like London.

In Scotland, a wave of local walkouts by the EIS union are also under way this week Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

How will parents and pupils know what disruption they could face?

The decision on whether to close fully or partially is down to individual headteachers.

Many schools will have already written to families to let them know if pupils will not be able to come in while others are likely to include their most up-to-date plans on school websites.

Some local authorities are publishing details on school closures in the areas on their own websites.

Last week, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan called on the NEU to encourage its members to alert heads if they intended to take strike action on Wednesday to help schools make operational decisions.

The NEU is required by law to provide schools with the number of members that it is calling on to take strike action in each workplace but the union does not have to provide the names of members.

School leaders will have made plans for Wednesday based on the number of NEU members in their school but they will not know fully who will be available for work until the day itself.

School leaders will not know fully who will be available for work until the day itself Credit: PA

How could parents be affected by the strikes?

Parents of school-aged children may need to take leave from work, or arrange alternative childcare, if their child has been told not to come into school on Wednesday.

Jonathan Broadbery, director of policy at the National Day Nurseries Association, has also warned the strike could have “a serious knock-on effect” for nurseries as staff may struggle to find childcare.

There is a worry some parents could remain in the dark about possible disruption until the morning of the strikes as that is when heads will have a full picture of how many staff have decided to strike.

What other action is taking place by education unions across the UK?

Support staff in Wales, who are members of the NEU, are also taking part in the strikes on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, teacher members of the NEU in sixth-form colleges in England, who have already been balloted and taken strike action in recent months, will join the walkouts in a separate but linked dispute.

School leaders in the NAHT Cymru union in Wales will also hold industrial action short of a strike – which includes abstaining from arranging cover for those taking part in any industrial action – from February 1.

In Scotland, a wave of local walkouts by the EIS union – Scotland’s biggest teaching union – are under way this week and more national action is planned as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.

Teachers in Northern Ireland – who are members of the NASUWT and INTO unions – are set to take part in a half-day strike on February 21 over pay.

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