Teacher strikes: more than 200,000 staff to walk out over three days in dispute over pay

Teacher unions are increasing the pressure on the government for a pay offer to help staff cope with the rising cost of living

Tens of thousands of teachers across England and Wales will strike over three days this week in the long-running dispute over pay.

Around 20,000 members of the National Education Union (NEU) will walk out across the north of England on Tuesday 28 February, with the majority of schools expected to either restrict access to some pupils or fully close.

On Wednesday 1 March, union members are set to strike in the Midlands and eastern regions in England and further walkouts will take place across Wales and the south of England on Thursday.

Education workers rally towards Westminster during a day of strikes across the UK on 1 February 2023 in LondonEducation workers rally towards Westminster during a day of strikes across the UK on 1 February 2023 in London
Education workers rally towards Westminster during a day of strikes across the UK on 1 February 2023 in London

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, told the PA news agency: “I think across the three days we will have 200,000 members taking strike action.”

The country’s largest education union has had 50,000 new sign-ups since the strikes were announced six weeks ago, he added.

Speaking ahead of the strikes in the north of England, Mr Courtney said: “I think a majority of schools will be affected by the dispute. Some of them with full closures and many more with partial closures.

“Some secondary schools will be completely closed, others will have particular year groups in and a similar pattern in lots of lots of primary schools.”

Picket lines will be mounted outside schools in regions including the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber on Tuesday, and rallies will be held in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

Some parents will be forced to take leave from work, or arrange alternative childcare due to the regional walkouts across three days this week.

In a message to parents, Mr Courtney said: “We really do sincerely apologise for the disruption to their children’s education on our strike days, and to the disruption to their working lives and home lives.

“But we do believe we’re taking action with a moral purpose of trying to get the government to invest in their children’s education.”


Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has called strike action “unforgivable”, adding that children deserve to be in class, especially after the pandemic.

Last week, Ms Keegan invited the teaching unions to “formal talks on pay, conditions and reform” on the condition that NEU strikes were suspended, but the NEU has called on the Education Secretary to drop preconditions to talks and instead make a “serious” offer on pay to avert national walkouts from taking place across England and Wales on 15 and 16 March.

In a statement on Monday evening (27 February), Ms Keegan said: “As a government, we have made a serious offer to the leaders of the National Education Union and Royal College of Nursing: pause this week’s strikes, get round the table and talk about pay, conditions and reforms.

“It is hugely disappointing the NEU has thus far refused this serious offer and has not joined the Royal College of Nursing in calling off strikes.

“Instead of sitting round a table discussing pay, the NEU will once again cause disruption for children and families.

Mr Courtney added: “I think the government is fundamentally mistaken in thinking that industrial relations are solved by telling people you can’t go on strike if you want to talk to us.

“We are willing to meet at any time, any place and we would really hope that she does meet with us after these regional strikes and comes up with something serious that is an offer that we can put to members.

“That’s what we would want in an ideal world, to find a solution that means we don’t go ahead with those strikes in March.”

In Scotland, members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and NASUWT unions will walk out on Tuesday and Wednesday over their long-running pay dispute.

However, members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) agreed to defer the industrial action planned for 28 February and 1 March in the expectation of an improved pay offer in the coming days.

The Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland (AHDS) also cancelled its planned participation in further strikes after a majority voted in favour of accepting the deal.

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said: “EIS members remain absolutely resolute in their determination to secure a fair pay settlement from the Scottish Government and Cosla.

“This two-day national strike action is a further clear signal that Scotland’s teachers are not prepared to accept the deep real-terms pay cut that is being offered to them.

The Scottish government has said the 10% increase that the EIS wants is unaffordable.

Related topics: