Strike Action – letter to parents and carers

This letter has been sent to parents and carers today.


Dear parents and carers

I am writing to you to provide you with an update about the imminent strike which is due to take place on Wednesday 1st February 2023.

At the moment, the leadership team of the Federation and I continue to work with the NEU representatives and other members of staff to make decisions about whether we can partially open the schools or not. Please be assured that if we are forced to close any of the three schools within the Federation for the day, it will be the last resort and our decisions will be made based on health and safety grounds due to staffing.

The NEU have balloted their teaching members and some will take part in strike action on Wednesday 1st February; with further strike action planned for Thursday 2nd March, Wednesday 15th March and Thursday 16th March. Some colleagues may engage in strike action for all 4 days, some may choose to select days.

On these strike days, NEU teaching members will withhold their labour for the duration of the day. This means NEU members at Tiverton High will not be attending the workplace, planning and preparing lessons, marking students’ work, responding to emails or carrying out any other duties that would normally be a part of their working day.

NEU members will not deliver online lessons or set cover for strike days, nor will members be marking or assessing student work completed during strike days.

The reasons that some teachers who belong to the NEU are striking are explained here.

We feel at this stage it is important for parents to understand the constraints that school leaders face because of industrial action, and I have outlined the situation at THS for contextual understanding;

• There are currently 38 teaching members in the NEU which is just over 50% of the teaching staff in the school. Membership numbers could increase over the next few days.
• Guidance from the NEU to their members is that they are under no obligation to indicate to their school leadership team of their intention to strike or not. However, as the Head I am entitled to ask this question and some members of the NEU have informed me of their intentions. Decisions about a partial opening of the school must be based on the information we hold at a specific point in time and of course we also must accept that this may be subject to change at short notice.
• In addition to those NEU members striking there are constraints placed upon school leaders about what non-striking colleagues can take part in. For example, teachers who are in the NEU but have chosen not to strike or teachers in any other union cannot be asked to cover for striking colleagues.
• The DFE guidance talks about priority places in school for vulnerable children and those whose parents meet the critical worker criteria. We are gathering the feedback from parents about this at the moment.
• Unlike our primary colleagues, students at THS are taught by up to 5 teachers each day and therefore it is inevitable that their timetables will be affected by striking colleagues.
• As each school context, buildings and staffing body are different across our schools, the exact arrangements for managing strike action in each school vary widely. Most particularly the distribution of membership of the different teaching unions varies from school to school. Some schools have few staff taking strike action, others have many more.
• We are currently asking all students about their ability to access Google Classrooms with their own device (laptop/tablet/mobile phone) from home as it is highly possible that this will be a method of working for the majority students next week. If this is the case students should expect to have some live lessons, taught by teachers who are in school. There will be other independent work set for students for those lessons who would normally be taught by a teacher who is striking on that day.
• The DFE have wavered the need to deliver the normal curriculum on strike days but for students who are online receiving live lessons, the content of lessons should be in line with the national curriculum or GCSE/BTEC.

We will endeavour to finalise our plans for next week by the end of Friday this week, in order to give families as much notice as possible.

Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to minimise the disruption to your child’s education and the inconvenience this strike action may cause. We hope for a quick and successful resolution to this national dispute before the next planned strike action in March.

Thank you for your support

Yours sincerely

Sammy Crook

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