Teachers strike 2023: when Greater Manchester teachers are going on strike and whether schools will close

Greater Manchester schools are putting in place contingency measures to try to prevent them having to close during the strike.
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Teachers in Greater Manchester are going on strike as part of a national dispute over pay.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) will be walking out across the country, including in the city-region. Seven days of strike action in February and March have been declared, though the union has said any individual school will be affected by no more than four of them. Schools are pulling together contingency plans to try to prevent them having to close, though it is expected that some schools will be fully or partly closed while the strike is going on.

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Here’s what you need to know about when the strike action is happening in Greater Manchester, why the dispute is taking place and what parents of pupils in Greater Manchester should do.

And for a list of schools in Manchester which will be closing or part-closing, see our live article here.

When does the teachers strike in Greater Manchester take place and why is it happening?

The NEU will be taking strike action in Greater Manchester on Wednesday 1 February. This is a day of national action with all regions of England and Wales involved in the walk-outs.

Greater Manchester schools will then be involved in a day of action in regions including the North West on Tuesday 28 February, Finally the city-region will be involved in another two days of action on Wednesday 15 March and Thursday 16 March in which teachers across England and Wales are striking.

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NEU members voted convincingly for strike action as part of an ongoing dispute in which the union is campaigning for an above-inflation pay rise. The union says the industry needs a pay rise which at least matches inflation and also wants government ministers to take action to restore pay following years of real-term cuts. There are also concerns about underfunding of schools which means the money provided has not kept up with costs,

Altogether the NEU has 12,800 members in Greater Manchester in 1,200 workplaces. Nationally the first day of strike action across England and Wales is affecting 23,400 schools, the union says.

On the same days sixth form college staff in England will also be taking action in a separate but similar dispute with government over pay. Employees at 10 Greater Manchester colleges walked out in November as part of this campaign of industrial action. The colleges affected were Ashton Sixth Form College in Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside, Aquinas College in Stockport, Bolton Sixth Form College (the town centre campus), Holy Cross College in Bury, Loreto College in Hulme, Oldham Sixth Form College, Rochdale Sixth Form College, St John Rigby RC Sixth Form College and Winstanley College which are both in Wigan and Xaverian College in Manchester.

Will schools be closing during the strike? What do parents need to know?

Schools across Greater Manchester have begun writing to parents to explain what arrangements are being made for the strike day on Wednesday 1 February.

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Some schools in the city-region may have to close either fully or partly, but many are trying to make contingency arrangements to prevent this from happening. It is hoped that this will become clearer between in the run-up to Wednesday 1 February.

The NEU’s strike and campaign website, Pay Up! Save Our Schools, makes it clear that hundreds of schools across Greater Manchester will be taking part. The interactive map on the website shows which schools are involved in the strike action, and it has a postcode look-up tool so you can enter the area near where you live and find out what is happening.

The interactive map on the website also shows that Save Our Schools demonstrations will be happening in Manchester and Wigan.

There is considerable uncertainty about what will happen on the strike days as NEU members do not have to notify headteachers if they intend to strike, although many will. It is also possible that members of the union may choose not to take part in the strike action.

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It will also depend on how many staff in any given school are members of the NEU rather than another education union. The NASUWT union also balloted for strike action but it is not taking part in any industrial action as not enough people in the union voted to clear the participation threshold which must be done for a vote to progress further.

If schools need to restrict attendance, the government has asked that schools prioritise vulnerable children, children of critical workers and pupils who are due to take public examinations (like GCSEs) and other formal assessments. Unless otherwise told by their child’s school, parents should send children into school on strike days as normal unless they are unwell.

What has been said about the strike?

Peter Middleman, North West regional secretary of the NEU, said about the vote to take strike action: “This is an emphatic result and an accurate indication of the strength of feeling within the teaching profession. It is all the more remarkable when you consider the administrative scale of conducting an aggregated ballot taken across 23,000 workplaces in England and in the context of the provisions of the Trade Union Act which has placed significant impediments on the ability of unions to engage fully with members since 2016.

“As such, the Government ought to take this democratic result seriously and recognise the mistakes in their approach to teacher reward which has brought the profession to this point. With workloads going endlessly up, our members have indicated that they will no longer tolerate their living standards going in the opposite direction.

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“Headteachers and school governors understand like we do, that with school funding in dire straits, only the Treasury and Department for Education can now resolve this dispute by placing a new value on our schools, and the people who learn and work within them.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Strike action is highly damaging to children’s education, particularly following the disruption that children have experienced over the past two years. We have been clear we want to support school leaders to do everything they can to keep as many children in school as possible.”

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