When is the next teacher strike? NEU plans fresh strikes for July unless pay dispute resolved by mid-June

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
In England, Wales and Scotland teachers have been striking in 2023 in a dispute over pay.

Teachers will stage fresh strikes in July if their long-running dispute over pay has not been resolved by the middle of June, the National Education Union has announced.

Tens of thousands of teachers walked out of schools and sixth form colleges earlier in the month, just days before of the start of GCSE and A-level exams (15 May). More strike dates were expected to be announced after teachers in England, who are members of the National Education Union (NEU), rejected a government pay offer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The union earlier said it was planning to schedule a three day strike in late June or early July. The Department for Education said the move was "bitterly disappointing". The NEU also started balloting members on 15 May for further strikes later this year. If successful, it will create a strike mandate for a further six months from August - which could see industrial action ongoing until the end of the year.

Members of a school leaders’ union have also started balloting for strike action, after overwhelmingly rejecting the government’s pay offer. Nine in 10 members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), who took part in an earlier online consultative ballot, voted down the deal.

The NAHT ballot will close on July 31, with education unions agreeing to co-ordinate strike action in the autumn term. NEU joint secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney blamed a “lack of engagement” from the government for the decision, but said it was “never too late for the Education Secretary to come to the negotiating table and make an improved offer”.

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said that the union had been “left with no other choice but to seek this mandate for industrial action”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After weeks of talks, the government offered what the NEU says amounts to a £1,000 one-off cash payment for the present school year and a 4.3% consolidated pay rise for most teachers the following year - and has been recommended by the union to be rejected. The union's analysis suggested between 42% and 58% of schools would have to make cuts to afford it.

Teachers and members of the National Education Union (NEU) hold placards during a demonstration called by the NEU trade unions in the streets of Reading, on February 1, 2023 during a national strike dayTeachers and members of the National Education Union (NEU) hold placards during a demonstration called by the NEU trade unions in the streets of Reading, on February 1, 2023 during a national strike day
Teachers and members of the National Education Union (NEU) hold placards during a demonstration called by the NEU trade unions in the streets of Reading, on February 1, 2023 during a national strike day | Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Why are teachers striking? 

Some 300,000 teachers and support staff were asked to vote in the original NEU ballot – and more than 127,000 teacher members and 16,000 support staff members in England and Wales backed action. The NAHT school leaders’ union initially failed to achieve the 50% ballot turnout required by law for its members to go out on strike over pay in England, however it is reballoting today.

The joint NEU general secretaries, said: “We have continually raised our concerns with successive education secretaries about teacher and support staff pay, and its funding in schools and colleges, but instead of seeking to resolve the issue they have sat on their hands.

“It is disappointing that the government prefers to talk about yet more draconian anti-strike legislation, rather than work with us to address the causes of strike action.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The union leaders added that historic real-terms pay cuts for teachers had created an “unsustainable situation” in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, adding that staff were leaving the profession “in droves”.

England

Unions are looking for above-inflation increases in their pay, plus extra to ensure to cover any rising budgets. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that between 2010 and 2022, salaries in England fell by an average of 11% - taking inflation into account.

In July last year, the government said teachers would benefit from pay increases of between 5% and 8.9% from September 2022, after accepting the recommendations of the independent School Teachers’ Review Body for this academic year.

In England, a ballot result of support staff in schools saw a 84.13% majority vote yes on a turnout of 46.46%. This result, despite being hugely in favour of action, just missed the government’s restrictive thresholds.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A DfE spokesman said: “The government has put forward a fair and reasonable offer, backed with funding for schools. The offer provides an average 4.5% pay rise for next year, puts £1,000 into the pockets of teachers as a one-off payment for this year, and commits to reducing workload by five hours each week. This is a good deal for teachers that acknowledges their hard work and dedication.”

Joint General-Secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted. Credit: GettyJoint General-Secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted. Credit: Getty
Joint General-Secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted. Credit: Getty | Getty Images

Wales

Unions have campaigned for months for a better pay deal, after rejecting the 5% increase offered by the Welsh government in November 2022, calling it an “insult”.

The Welsh government’s November offer, originally recommended by the Independent Welsh Pay Review Body, increased the starting teacher salary in Wales to £28,866 and the salaries of more experienced classroom teachers to £44,450. All allowances were also uprated by 5%.

However, inflation in Wales is over 10% and anything below would constitute a real term pay cut. A ballot result of support staff in schools saw an 88.26% majority vote YES on a turnout of 51.30%. This result passed the thresholds and support staff in Wales will be called to take action in their dispute too.

Scotland

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Teachers have been offered a 7% rise for 2022-23, backdated to April. They have also been offered a 5% rise in April 2023, and a 2% one in January 2024 - this offer has been accepted.

The unions called for a fully-funded pay increase of 12% for 2022/23 after rejecting a 6.8% increase offer. However, the Scottish government previously said an increase for all teachers is not affordable within its fixed budget.

Northern Ireland

Action taken by teaching unions in Northern Ireland is mainly due to a dispute over pay. In February 2022, unions rejected a pay offer from employers for the years 2021-2023, saying it is "inadequate" as inflation has reached over 10%. The unions striking are: NASUWT; the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO); the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) and the National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). It is the first time in its 125 year history members of the NAHT have taken strike action over pay.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the five unions said their members had "waited far too long for a satisfactory offer from the employers. Teachers' pay, in real terms, has dropped by nearly a quarter in the 'lost decade' since the pay freeze of 2010-11," it continued.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We are now stepping up our campaign for a fair deal for all teachers. Our members have watched governments in other jurisdictions make offers which will lead to pay levels far in excess of what is available in Northern Ireland.

"Collectively, the five recognised unions are saying 'enough is enough' and that government and employers must act now to deliver a pay settlement which recognises the real terms loss in earnings suffered by teachers for more than a decade."

When are teachers striking in England, Wales and Scotland?

England

Strikes took place on 27 April and 2 May after the government has offered an average 4.5% pay rise for next year, a £1,000 one off payment for this year with a commitment to reducing workload by five hours each week. This deal has been called "insulting" by the NEU and the union recommended rejecting the offer. More strikes dates in the summer will be announced on 18 May.

Wales

Teachers from the NEU have agreed on an increased pay offer of 8% for 2022/23 (a 6.5% increase in annual pay, plus a one off payment of 1.5%) - and a 5% increase in annual pay for 2023/24.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, The National Association of Head Teachers in Wales rejected the offer and said funding arrangements remain a major concern for school leaders. They are taking action short of strikes - including refusing to attend evening meetings, only responding to calls and emails between 9am to 3pm school hours, and not taking part in staff appraisals.

Scotland

Scottish teacher strikes were called off after unions Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association accepted a new pay deal. They accepted a 7% rise for 2022-23, which would be backdated to April. They have also accepted a 5% rise in April 2023, and a 2% one in January 2024.

Northern Ireland

Strike action for teachers in Northern Ireland is scheduled to take place for five teacher unions on 26 April 2023. This follows a previous walkout on 21 February by four unions - the NASUWT; the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO); the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) and the National Education Union (NEU).

Which schools will be affected?

Dr Bousted had called on school leaders to let parents know ahead of the strikes if they plan to shut their doors during strike action. Teachers in England and Wales do not have to let their schools know if they are striking, however, most schools will let parents know in advance. If in doubt it is best to contact your child’s school directly.

In Northern Ireland, it is expected most schools will close as it is likely almost all teachers will be on strike.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.