School strikes: The full dates of when teachers walk out amid claims many at 'breaking point'

  • Watch the video report by ITV Wales Rural Affairs Correspondent, Hannah Thomas

Thousands of teachers across the country are set to walk out over the next few months in a row over pay.

Unions say it is in response to a pay rise offer of 5%, something they have rejected wanting a bigger increase that is more in line with inflation.

On Wednesday 16 January, members of the National Education Union (NEU) and National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Cymru voted in favour of industrial action.

School staff and teachers who are part of the NEU in Wales supported the strike at a rate of 92.28% based on a turnout of 58.1%.

Its members in England also voted to strike.

For NAHT Cymru, 75% of headteachers and school leaders voted to take industrial action, with 55% of members taking part in the ballot.

However the turnout in England did not meet the legal threshold so members there will not be striking for the time being.

  • Why are teachers walking out?

Both unions want to see a higher pay offer than the 5% increase currently on the table from the Welsh Government.

NEU Cymru is asking for a pay rise above inflation.

Welsh Government says it needs more money from Westminster in order to fund a larger pay rise for teachers.

David Evans, Wales Secretary of NEU Cymru said: "Teachers have lost around 20% in real-terms since 2010, and support staff 27% over the same period.

"The 5% pay rise for teachers this year is some 7% behind inflation. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation.

"Around a quarter of teachers are leaving within their first five years of qualifying. This is a waste of important talent and taxpayers' money, yet the Welsh Government has not acted to ensure the conditions they are allowing in schools support retention.

Some schools across Wales will close on strike days while others may remain open but with limited staff and teaching. Credit: PA Images

"We have continually raised our concerns with the Education Minister about teacher and support staff pay, and Welsh Government funding of schools, but so far they have not taken steps to resolve the issue."

NAHT Cymru also claim schools and education have been "underfunded" and want to see changes to the way schools are run as well as a higher pay increase.

Laura Doel, director of NAHT Cymru, said: “The continuous education reform agenda, issues with recruitment and retention, and the repeated underfunding of schools has left our education system at breakpoint. Our leaders are being asked to do more with less, schools are losing staff, and those left are struggling to keep up with the demands of the job.

“This result should act as a wake-up call to the Welsh Government that their ambitious reform agenda is endangering the education of learners across Wales. Our focus must be on delivering the new curriculum and ALN legislation and any vanity projects, like reforming the school day/year for example, need to be kicked into the long grass. An urgent review of the middle tier, its funding and its value must also form part of the discussion."

The Welsh Government said it "understands and respects" the decision to strike made by school staff, and the feelings behind their decision.

A spokesperson added that the Education Minister would be meeting with teaching and headteacher unions in the coming days to discuss the outcome of the ballots.

  • When are teachers striking?

Teachers and support staff in state-funded schools in Wales who are in the NEU will take part in four days of strikes.

These will take place on:

- Wednesday 1 February 2023

- Tuesday 14 February 2023

- Wednesday 15 March 2023

- Thursday 16 March 2023

Mr Evans of NEU Cymru said that the union continues to hope the dispute can be resolved before February 1 and so avoid strike action.

He added: "We regret having to take strike action and are willing to enter into negotiations at any time, any place, but this situation cannot go on."

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said, "School leaders are doing their best with what little they have, but with their own salaries expected to be worth as much as 22% less this year than in 2010, many are reaching breaking point."

These strikes come amid a wave of industrial action from other public sector workers, including nurses and ambulance staff. Credit: PA Images

NAHT Cymru are yet to announce any potential dates for industrial action.

However its members also voted to take action "short of striking", which 95% of those who responded to the ballot were in support of.

NAHT Cymru said its members will join colleagues in Northern Ireland who have been engaged in this type of action, which includes refusal to provide information or data to employers, since October last year.

  • How will this affect my child's school?

On the four strike dates announced by the NEU, there are likely to be school closures across Wales. Some schools may have to provide limited teaching too.

It will be up to individual schools and local authorities to put plans in place to adapt to the industrial action.

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