Teachers in England and Wales are preparing to walk out over pay, the first national strike since 2016.
More than 100,000 people may go on strike on Wednesday. The National Education Union announced, along with university workers, civil servants, train and bus drivers.
Some schools do not decide whether to close completely or partially until early morning. As it depends on how many workers join the strike.
According to the Minister of Education, this “means a lot of uncertainty for parents”.
Gillian Keegan said the strike would have a “significant impact on children’s education”.
But Schools Secretary Nick Gibb later said he expected the “majority” of schools to be open to some extent.
Around 500,000 workers across a range of sectors are involve in the strike. The biggest strike in more than a decade, according to the Trades Union Congress.
Downing Street said mass action would cause “significant disruption”.
In Wales, striking teachers are join by support staff. While members of the National Union of Teachers launch a no-strike action.
Teachers are also on strike in two parts of Scotland – Clackmannanshire and Aberdeen – as part of organized action. Year 5 teacher Helen Butler joins the Portsmouth selection for the first time in her 26-year career. He used to vote against the strike – but now he feels differently.
“We have some teachers who go to food banks,” she said, adding. That her real wages have been falling for more than a decade.
Ms Butler said she loved her school, where she represents the NEU, but it was underfund and her workload had increased.
“In one class we get 10 glue sticks for 30 because it’s expensive. I ended up buying my own,” she said.
“I don’t know a single teacher who doesn’t work during his vacation.
– What other work is expect of you during the vacation?
The pay of most state school teachers in England and Wales will rise by 5% in 2022. However, unions say inflation means this is effectively a cut. And they want to be sure that this is not being pay for out of the school budget.
Wednesday will be the first of seven national and regional NEU strike days.
Schools have been advise to open to vulnerable pupils, children of key staff and test takers.
Some are only open to certain classes.
Children can be telework – but striking teachers don’t have to.
Paula Arnold, who works at a law firm in Poole, said she would not know whether her daughters’ schools would open until Wednesday morning.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be in [the office] or out or working at home or not being able to work,” she said. And it wasn’t easy working at home with the kids—especially when they weren’t working.
“I’d like to say my kids are angels,” she laughed. “Kids are kids. They need to eat. I don’t want to just… put them in front of a machine and slap them.”
Arnold said she wants to continue supporting the striking teachers, but needs more certainty to plan child care.
“I end up just pulling my hair out because it’s just complicated to fix everything,” she said.
Sam Done, principal of Hillcrest Academy Primary School in Leeds, does not know how many staff they will employ or how many pupils they can accommodate.
“We have to wait and see what happens until 11 o’clock the night before and the morning of the military action,” he said.
There will be a four-day strike in schools in England:
three national holidays
which affects their territory
More than 53% of NEU teachers in England voted in the referendum – 90% supported the strike.
A Cambridgeshire secondary school teacher, who asked not to be named, said he understood why his colleagues were on strike but could not afford to lose his pay.
“Ethically, it’s just not right for me,” he added.
“The kids have suffered so much because of Covid and I feel like I’m screwed and missing four more days of school isn’t going to help anyone. They are already far behind.”
Teachers have already launched a national strike in Scotland – and the action is ongoing. Most teachers in Northern Ireland will walk out for half a day on February 21.