Teachers from across Wirral are expected to join others across England and Wales in the first national teachers’ strike for 12 years tomorrow.
The National Education Union (NEU) has announced seven-days of industrial action between 1 February and 16 March – with any one school affected by four days of disruption during that period.
The strikes in this region have been confirmed as 1 February, 28 February, 15 March and 16 March in a dispute over the union’s claim for a fully-funded inflation-proof pay rise for the profession and after last-ditch talks with Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan broke-down on Monday afternoon.
Strikers are expected to leave local picket lines to join a series of town and city centre lunchtime rallies alongside other strikers including university lecturers (UCU), train drivers (RMT and Aslef) and civil servants from a range of government departments (PCS).
The NEU’s North West Regional Secretary, Peter Middleman said, “It’s disappointing that the Minister has chosen to stonewall teachers’ legitimate demands for a new value to be placed on our schools system and instead, continues to play the role of apologist for an austerity Chancellor and a Cabinet of millionaires.
“The UK spends relatively less on education than most other developed nations and though she claims to recognise the impact of the recruitment and retention crisis afflicting the profession, she remains unwilling to resolve it.
“Our members feel that they are left with no option but to highlight the scale of the problem by withdrawing their labour. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, teachers can’t afford yet another real-terms pay cut and our schools can’t afford to watch graduate professionals leave in droves.
“Something has to give and the sooner Ministers realise that, the sooner our members can re-focus on rebuilding teaching as a rewarding career”.
The union claims that a lack of qualified teachers harms the education that children and young people receive, pointing out that the situation is getting worse:
- The government missed its target for recruitment of new secondary school teachers by 41% this year and by 11% for primary school teachers.
- Some of the gaps between the teachers needed, and the trainees recruited are alarming – biology missed the target by 66%. Modern foreign Languages by 48%. English by 39%.
- Modern Foreign Languages and Computing collapsed with only a third of their target met.
- There’s been a fall of 23% in trainee teacher recruitment in 2022 compared with 2021.
- Only four secondary subjects reached target – History, Classics, PE and Drama.
- One in eight maths lessons is taught by a teacher not qualified in the subject.
- One in four teachers leave the profession within two years of qualification; a third within five years.
- 13% of teachers who qualified in 2019 have quit.
- The Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, in her annual report published last December (2022), wrote of a workforce crisis in schools which is ‘compounding’ barriers to education recovery, with children ‘bearing the brunt’ of these issues. ‘It’s clear that in education staffing issues are compounding problems, it is vital that education providers are able to recruit, train and retain talented and capable people.’