SCHOOLS are facing further disruption as teachers walk out across England in the latest wave of strike action over pay.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) are taking action on Friday, with ministers being warned that industrial unrest could escalate in the autumn term unless there is movement on teachers’ salaries.

The Department for Education said the action would cause disruption to pupils and parents and result in the cancellation of children’s end-of-term events.

It is the second day of action this week, following Wednesday’s strike which resulted in many schools being either fully closed or restricted access to certain groups of pupils.

The Government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year (2022/23) and an average 4.5% rise for staff next year after intensive talks with the education unions.

But all four education unions involved in the dispute rejected the offer, and the decision on teachers’ pay in England for next year has been passed to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).

'Start listening'

The NEU accused the Government of sitting on that pay review body’s report, which it believes recommends a 6.5% increase.

The union called on Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “start listening and start negotiations”.

The latest action means some pupils in St Helens will have missed seven days of schooling this year due to strikes.

'How long is this going to go on for?'

One concerned St Helens parent voiced concerns about the impact on children's education and called for both sides to reach an agreement.

They said: "It will be another two days of schooling lost for my child, who has been in the unfortunate position to be affected - that’s seven days since January.

"Now, I’m not taking sides here – I understand there are arguments from teachers and the government.

"But how long is this going to rumble on for?

"How much more of my child’s education is going to suffer?

"We heard a lot about the damage being out of school did to children during Covid. So what about the impact that this is having?

"Consistently broken weeks of schooling – breaking habits, breaking discipline, disrupting learning.

"There doesn’t seem much discussion or debate about this in the news.

"And it does need saying: children who felt the effects of the pandemic are seeing their education harmed.

"Only last week St Helens Council was banging on about the damage absenteeism (with the finger being pointed at parents for taking children taken out of school on holidays) will have on pupils’ progress.

"The teaching unions and the government need to get their heads together and reach a resolution as surely they can’t let this run on into the next academic year?

This strike action will see the cancellation of end-of-term events and important transition days to secondary schools, impacting children and causing more disruption for parents

Department for Education spokesman NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “No teacher wants to be taking strike action and this week’s strike action should not have been necessary.

“The responsibility for it lies at the door of the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary who continue to refuse to re-enter negotiations with education unions to reach a settlement on a fully funded pay increase for teachers.”

He added: “If left unaddressed this action will only escalate in the autumn.

“Four education unions are now balloting for action in the September term. This should speak volumes to Government.

“Far from backing down, the stony silence from the Education Secretary has united the profession as never before.

“It is high time that the Prime Minister recognised that if he wants to have an education system that delivers the very best for the children and young people of this country his Government needs to start listening and start negotiations.”

The Government is following a policy of public pay restraint as part of a strategy to curb inflation, which has led to a series of disputes with workers.

'Fair and reasonable offer'

However, the Department for Education (DfE) insisted a “fair and reasonable” pay offer had been made to the unions.

A DfE spokesman said: “This strike action will see the cancellation of end-of-term events and important transition days to secondary schools, impacting children and causing more disruption for parents.”

The DfE said it “hugely” valued the work of teachers and had listened to demands for a £2 billion increase in schools funding.

On pay, the spokesman said: “As part of the normal process, the independent School Teachers’ Review Body has submitted its recommendations to Government on teacher pay for 2023/24.

“We will be considering the recommendations and will publish our response in the usual way.”