Some schools are likely to close in Wales next week, with thousands of Welsh teachers and staff going on strike. Members of the National Education Union (NEO) are on strike on February 1st and 14th, as well as March 15th and 16th consecutively, over wages and working conditions.

Both the NEU and the NAHT, the UK’s two largest teachers’ unions, voted to strike in early January. The NAHT has yet to announce any dates, but NEU members will strike from February 1st to 14th and March 15th to 16th. Education Secretary Jeremy Miles said this week that some schools were likely to close on the first day of next week’s strike, although it was up to schools and local authorities to decide whether to close or not.

Unions are in talks with the Welsh government, which has offered workers a one-off pay on top of last year’s general 5% offer, but unions say this is unlikely to stop strikes. Welsh teachers have rejected the Welsh government’s offer of a 5% rise in November, calling it “insulting” and saying years of real pay cuts have led to a recruitment and retention crisis and that schools are struggling to cope with high workloads. and unable to hire enough staff.

How much teachers get paid in Wales: £28,866 total pay scale

With days to go until the first day of the strike, schools and city halls are checking to see if they have enough staff to stay open. Miles said schools are required to give parents a week’s notice of any planned closures, so we’ll likely get a more complete picture of how the strikes will affect schools in the coming days. Here are five things we know about teacher strikes in Wales.

Schools can be closed

Minister Jeremy Miles said this week that he believed the strikes would lead to the closure of some schools in Wales. Speaking on BBC Wales Politics, he said the “exact number” of schools that would close was not yet known, but he expected some to do so. “In the last week, unions have reported to schools how many members they have in a given school and now principals are reviewing the regulations,” he said.

“Most authorities generally want to give parents a week’s notice of what this will mean for schools. They will have to make a school-level decision with local authorities on whether the schools will remain open or closed.”

Asked if he expected some schools to close, Miles said: “Yes, I think that will happen.” As schools scramble to give as much notice as possible, school closure announcements are likely to come in the coming days.

Minister of Education, Jeremy Miles

Online training is possible

Due to the fact that some schools may be closed, attention has been called to find out if there will be educational conditions for students who cannot attend school. Questioned by WalesOnline at a press conference on Tuesday, Miles said he hoped some form of online learning would be available, but this would likely be greatly affected by the number of people taking part in the mass action.

Miles said directors “will be cautious” because they will know how many employees will be absent, but not necessarily who they will be. He said schools will be looking at options and online learning is an option to consider, adding: “Hopefully we’ll see that next week.” However, each individual school and council independently decides the order of study on strike days.

Priority will be given to vulnerable students and exam course students

Miles said any training that took place on strike days would be limited due to the number of employees likely to be on strike. He said any provision would focus on “vulnerable children” and test takers, so if training continued, those groups would likely take precedence. He added on Tuesday that “there are obviously limits to what you can ask of other teachers, so it will be a strong practical constraint” on teaching on strike days.

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Some parents will face a dilemma

Strike days can also affect parents with children on strike days, especially those who work in key industries or find it difficult to stay home. Miles admitted that it was a “concern” for parents that they could lose income due to the strikes, although even those who can work may have to shell out extra money to care for children these days.

“My concern is that parents have to take time off from work and in some cases they themselves lose their wages,” he said in response to questions at a news conference on Tuesday. Miles said this is particularly concerning at a time of cost-of-living crisis, which is already putting significant pressure on household finances. He said the previous covid legislation that gave parents greater protection during the pandemic has now been repealed, meaning there may be little financial protection for those who lose out on strike days.

The impact of a blow can be more severe at first

As with any strike, the real impact of the action is unlikely to be known until the first day of action. Mr. Miles said that because the schools really didn’t know who would be on strike, the first day of the strike, February 1st, created a lot of uncertainty and potential disruptions. But he said schools might have a clearer idea of ​​how strike days might work when the first day occurs, as it would be an indication of the resources they would have for future dates. “It could happen if there’s a follow-up that there’s more confidence in what schools look like,” he said.

Source: Wales Online