Students moved to on-line learning on Wednesday 1st February 2023 in response to the national teachers strike.
Following on from our earlier announcement in relation to the Teacher’s strikes set to take place tomorrow, this message is to provide an update to families and some explanation of the reasons behind the decisions we have taken.
Lessons for students in all year groups will move to online learning during the day of strike action. This means that we will arrange for students to have the opportunity to access their timetable and a range of generic learning materials, from home. Our teachers who are not involved in strike action will be in school and deliver their normal lessons online. The exception to this will be lessons usually conducted by staff who are taking strike action on the day. In these cases, revision and generic learning materials will be available for examination classes. However for reasons detailed below, there may be some lessons where subject specific work can not be guaranteed.
It is important to explain that teachers who decide to take strike action do not need to tell us beforehand and have been advised not to. Although a number of our teachers have given us advanced warning that they intend to strike, the majority have not. We understand that over half of our teachers are now members of the union that are taking strike action and that NEU membership has grown significantly over the past weeks since their announcement of strikes.
Just to put this in context, we will not know for sure how many teachers are on strike until after 8.40am on the day of industrial action. Although we believe some of the staff who are members of the NEU may well choose to come to work, there will still be a significant impact on our ability to manage the school in a safe manner. Our strike planning shows us that if only half of the local NEU members strike, we would still start the morning with around 600 children in classrooms unsupervised at the start of the day with no capacity to manage at least two thirds of that number. We have no way of knowing which year groups or subject areas will be hit. Teachers who are members of any other union other than the NEU cannot take part in strike action.
In terms of lessons, teachers taking strike action are instructed by their unions not to set work for lessons that they will not be in school to teach. The other unions, as part of their industrial action, although not taking strike action, are insisting that their members do not provide cover for lessons that are unsupervised because of colleagues being on strike.
It is important to stress that this is a national pay dispute and not about issues at our school. There is nothing that individual schools are able to do to influence either side of the negotiations or to change the rules governing the industrial action. It is clear by responses so far, that there are a wide range of views within our school community about the dispute and the action being taken. Our role as a senior leadership team is to best manage the safety of the children at our school and to do what we can to enable the majority to access learning during strike days.
Please be assured that we understand completely just how difficult it is for busy families when schools are shut. We have not taken the decisions lightly but the safety of our school community is of paramount importance. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused and for the impact on our children. Many of our staff, including teachers, have children who will not be able to go to school tomorrow which has also featured in our plans.
We said in our previous communication that the NEU has issued a series of strike days that will impact our school. It is too early at this stage to confirm what decisions we will take in relation to how best to manage subsequent strike days. Our ambition will always be to have our school fully open or to welcome in as many children as possible but within safe parameters. We will of course keep this under review and will keep you informed as the weeks progress.