Strike Day Thursday 2nd March
24th February 2023
Dear Parents and Carers
As you will have seen teachers will be striking again on Thursday 2nd March. Please understand that Teachers are striking against the national education policy and resourcing in schools and not against the children they work so hard for every day.
What happens next?
Firstly, we thank you again for your patience, I am now in the position of being able to give you an update on the proposed strike action due to take place by teachers on Thursday 2nd March. Some of our teachers have indicated that they will be taking action on this date.
I am writing to inform you that at present, we will be opening as normal for all children in Nursery Reception, Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 on Thursday 2nd March.
To allow the majority of classes to stay open, we will need to again close the Year 5 and 6 classes.
We are only able to accommodate vulnerable children from the year 5 and 6 year groups, in line with guidance from the Department for Education, due to health and safety reasons. These children will attend school as a priority; the children will not be taught by teachers but will be supervised in mixed age groups. We will email parents of Child in Need, Looked after, EHCP, adopted and special guardianship children separately on Friday to inform you of your child’s place in school and requesting that you confirm their attendance. If you do not receive an email and feel that you meet this criteria please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be aware that this is the plan as of today, Friday 24th February, however, a large number of our staff are also parents who may be affected by their child not being able to attend school, which in turn would affect my considerations above- and this is information I may not get until very late in the day. Please can we also suggest that you start to consider appropriate child care on the following dates Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th March as these are the published industrial action dates.
What about school meals?
In line with the guidance, children who are entitled to benefit based free school meals will be able to come to school for lunchtime (11:45am-12:30pm) to have a hot school meal. A form will be sent out for parents to book the lunch; please complete by 9am Tuesday 28th February for each of your children. Your child will be supervised by lunchtime staff as this time is not affected by the teacher’s strike action. The children should arrive through the front entrance and should be collected from the front entrance at 12:30pm.
What about The Nest Club provision?
The Nest breakfast and after school club will be running as normal for those children booked in and who are expected in school. Children in Year 5 and Year 6 who are booked in, we will credit any payments made for cancellation of these sessions.
Why are Teachers taking action?
Although the strike is detailed as being about pay (and its gradual erosion over time) the reasons many teachers will have decided to strike is about so much more than personal take home pay - however, the law only allows you to strike on certain issues with pay being one of them.
More often than not, a teacher’s decision to strike is not based on their own personal circumstance, more than the effect that these circumstances have on their pupils. Current funding levels in schools are woefully inadequate to meet the needs of society (despite the claims of real terms cash increases). For example, nationally and locally there are not enough resources or spaces to support children with the highest levels of SEND which means, throughout the land, many are not able to thrive in a suitable learning environment. Teachers and support staff across the country work incredibly hard to support children who have complex and long term needs but they can often be subject to multiple instances of assault including verbal or physical – hitting, biting, spitting kicking. These children are not naughty or badly behaved, their behaviour is communication/frustration as children with complex needs struggle to have their needs met despite our best efforts. Please note this is one of a number of national issues and not something I am identifying as an East Wichel problem in isolation.
This has a knock on effect that resources are stretched even further when trying to support all pupils to reach their full potential. I do not know of any schools who are able to say they feel that they are ‘fully staffed’ to meet the needs of all its learners.
Schools have national pay scales and we are confined by the income we are given. When a recession and cost of living crisis hits, retail and hospitality sectors can put up their prices and then offer to pay higher wages to compensate this- schools with a fixed income can’t do this- therefore staff may leave or are forced to rely on handouts or foodbanks leading to further staffing challenges, pressure on those who remain in the profession, burn out and a recruitment crisis which is very real in the here and now.
Therefore when teachers, like nurses, are striking ‘because of pay’ it is not very often solely because of their own take home pay. It’s the impact it has on the service they can provide, that they long to provide. Having entered caring professions teachers and nurses never want to disadvantage their pupils or patients. They are not taking a day off (striking workers are not paid when they withdraw their labour) but they are left with no option to affect change. To tell those who can make the change enough is enough. It is becoming increasingly hard to do our jobs. We need more colleagues, we need to fix the recruitment and retention crisis, we need to look after and train our workforce to provide the world class service our children deserve.
Therefore if your child’s attendance at school is restricted because of strike action, because a teacher has opted to lose a day’s pay to be able to send a message that enough is enough then I hope you understand they are doing this to protect your child’s future, to try and build a better society. I know it will be an inconvenience, I know it will impact people but this is very much short term pain for long term gain and I sincerely hope that you are appreciative of the efforts made to achieve this goal.
If parents have any questions on this matter please email us at email@example.com and we will collate them and answer in a document to all. Please send any questions by Monday morning at 10am.
Thank you for your understanding.
Mrs P Phillips