According to a poll, nearly 90% of schools and sixth-form colleges in England and Wales with striking teachers have closed their doors to some students.
According to a quick survey conducted by a group of school administrators, the majority of schools have been impacted by the National Education Union (NEU) members’ first day of walkouts.
11% of the 920 schools and sixth-form colleges whose teachers were on strike reported being completely open and having all of their pupils present.
According to a study by the Association of School and College Leaders, four out of five (80%) claimed they were only partially open with some pupils present, while 9% said they were closed entirely throughout the strikes.
Up to 500,000 workers are on strike in the largest walkout in a decade due to acrimonious disagreements over wages, jobs, and working conditions.
Seven different trade unions’ members have been taking part in industrial action, which has affected trains, buses, schools, and universities.
The first nationwide strike since 2016 has been taking place among NEU-affiliated teachers in England and Wales.
According to Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, “more than 200,000” members walked out on Wednesday, and the strike has been “very effective,” he told the PA news agency.
Due to striking activity, some schools closed their doors to all students while others opened their doors to vulnerable students and the children of important workers.
Many institutions allowed students to attend in part, giving exam year groups priority.
On the largest single day of strikes in a decade, university employees, railway and bus drivers, and civil personnel all went on strike.
Unions say they have considerable popular backing, and picket lines have been set up outside of colleges, government offices, schools, and train stations around the nation.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents employees of the Border Agency at ports and airports, has more than 100,000 members on strike.
The TUC protested repeatedly against the government’s divisive proposals for a new rule governing minimum levels of service during strikes.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan stated on Wednesday morning that she anticipated the “majority” of schools in England and Wales to remain open despite the strikes, but added that “others will have limits.”
School administrators stated that some mixed courses, while others used support personnel and workers from supply agencies to cover instruction for the students present.
“The overwhelming sentiment among school and college leaders and teachers today will be one of sadness that we have reached a point where strike action has been taken as a last resort against a government that will not listen,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).
“This has undoubtedly been a challenging day for everyone involved, but the harsh reality is that every day in education is challenging due to the loss of teacher pay and conditions over the past decade and the ensuing teacher shortages,”
The first of seven days of teacher walkouts in February and March began on Wednesday after negotiations with Ms. Keegan failed to resolve a salary issue.
The joint general secretaries of the NEU, Mr. Courtney and Mary Bousted, have urged her to “come up with clear and substantive proposals” on pay in order to stop more strikes.
The NEU leaders declared: “Today, we warned the Education Secretary. She has until February 28—our following strike day for England—to change her mind.
“NEU members don’t want to strike once more. They want productive discussions that address the persistent issues they regularly encounter in their schools and colleges. in order for them to resume doing what they do best, which is interacting with students in the classroom.
However, if Gillian Keegan continues to fail to come up with substantial and tangible ideas, “be in no doubt that our members will do all it takes to stand up for education, including additional strike action.”
— National Education Union (@NEUnion) February 1, 2023
Downing Street emphasized the Government’s desire to have additional discussions with unions in order to stop further strikes.
When asked what Rishi Sunak is doing to stop the strike, the official spokeswoman for the prime minister responded, “We want to have additional conversations with the unions. Some of such discussions have produced positive results.
“We need to strike a balance between that and the requirement to treat all taxpayers fairly, the majority of whom don’t work in the public sector.
Inflation is one of the main threats to people’s take-home pay, as we’ve seen from the IMF just this week, and the government will keep acting responsibly to make sure public sector workers are paid appropriately while still being reasonable for the taxpayer.