This is a fast-moving topic and information should be read as correct at the time of publication.


Upcoming planned strike action

Teaching members of the National Education Union (NEU) are being called to strike in England on:

  • Wednesday 15 March 2023
  • Thursday 16 March 2023

Past strike dates in England

NEU teaching members previously took strike action on:

  • Wednesday 1 February 2023 (across England)
  • Tuesday 28 February 2023, in the following English NEU regions: Northern, North West, Yorkshire & The Humber.
  • Wednesday 1 March 2023, in the following English NEU regions: East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern.
  • Thursday 2 March 2023, in the following English NEU regions: London, South East, South West.

Members of other unions in England

The NASUWT balloted members in England but fell just short of the turnout threshold, although a high proportion of those returning ballot papers voted for strike action.

The National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) balloted members in England, but also missed the turnout threshold.

NAHT was quoted in the journal, Schools Week, saying that it was committed to re-balloting members, if talks with the Government either came to an end, or broke down. NASUWT has also said that it will announce plans to re-ballot members, although neither union has yet done so.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) held a consultative (not formal) ballot of members on strike action. It says that whilst it has held off a formal ballot so far “there is a limit to how many times we can come out of a meeting with the Education Secretary without progress being made”.

What is happening on strike days in England?

Are schools closing completely on strike days?  

It is up to individual schools to decide whether they will be able to open whilst strike action is ongoing. The situation will differ between schools. Some may close outright, whilst others will remain open to particular form groups, vulnerable pupils or exam year pupils. Some may set online work for pupils at home, but this isn’t a strict requirement.

What are Government expectations for strike days? 

In England, the Department for Education (DfE) has published revised, non-binding guidance on handling strike action in schools. This says head teachers should “take all reasonable steps to keep the school open for as many pupils as possible”.

School employers have legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Under the Act, the employer must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and pupils are not exposed to risks to their health and safety during activities either on or off school premises. In general, for pupils over seven, there are no set pupil-teacher/staff ratios.

Employees themselves are not required to tell their employer in advance that they intend to take strike action.

There’s no legal requirement to deliver the regular school curriculum on strike days.

Where schools must restrict attendance, they should consider, “where possible”, providing remote education. If delivering remote education, schools and caterers should provide a good quality lunch parcel to pupils qualifying for free school meals. They should also consider prioritising vulnerable pupils, pupils of critical workers, and those due to take public exams or other formal assessments.

What do the unions want?

School staff and leadership unions are campaigning for pay increases in line with current inflation, whilst raising concerns about school budgets, given rising costs. They argue that there is insufficient funding for schools to cover the higher-than-expected teacher pay awards in the 2022/23 academic year.

On 11 January 2023, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published analysis of teacher pay in England. It said that while the 2022/23 award represented “some of the biggest cash-terms increases in teacher salaries for over 15 years”, it would nevertheless result in real-terms salary cuts:

  • [With] CPI inflation currently expected to be about 10% in 2022–23, these increases will still represent real-terms salary cuts […] salaries for teachers on most pay grades are expected to fall by 5% in real-terms in 2022–23. Even with larger increases, new and inexperienced teachers are likely to see real-terms salary cuts of 1-3% in 2022–23. 
  • These cuts come on top of a long period of real-terms reductions in teacher salaries dating back to 2010 […] salaries for more experienced and senior teachers have fallen by 13% in real-terms since 2010. Teachers in the middle of the salary scale have experienced cuts of 9-10% since 2010. Starting salaries have fallen by 5% in real-terms.

On 21 February 2023, the Government published its evidence to the school teachers’ statutory pay body for England on the pay award for the coming 2023/24 academic year. This recommends a rise (in cash terms) of around 3% for more experienced teachers, and a higher percentage increase for newly qualified teachers.

Also on 21 February, the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, invited the NEU to further talks on pay and conditions, on condition that the union agreed to pause strikes planned for late February and 1 and 2 March 2023.

Responding to developments, the NEU said that it was ready to negotiate, but wanted the Government to drop its preconditions around pausing strike action. It also noted the DfE’s evidence on pay in 2023/24. If adopted, the NEU said, the pay framework would mean “in addition to the 23% (RPI – [retail price index]) or 11% (CPI [consumer price index]) cut in teachers’ pay over the past 12 years, they would face a further substantial pay cut next year because of the predicted rate of inflation in Q3 – of 10% RPI and 6% CPI.”

On 6 March,  NEU, NAHT, NASUWT and ASCL wrote to the Secretary of State suggesting a day of conciliation talks convened by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). An NEU press release, also quoting leaders of other unions and dated 8 March 2023 claimed the proposal had “been ignored”.


The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) ran a rolling programme of strikes in early 2023. It held national strike days on 28 February and 1 March 2023, as did the NASUWT in Scotland.

On 3 March 2023, Scottish employers’ organisation, COSLA, made a revised pay offer, and the EIS suspended its planned strike action, saying it would consult members and recommend acceptance of the offer. The offer covers 28 months and is in three parts. COSLA says:

On 10 March 2023, the EIS announced that its members had voted to accept the pay offer.

Members of the Association of Head Teachers and Deputies Scotland (AHDS), and the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) have previously participated in strike action in 2022 and 2023.

However, on 22 February 2023, the ADHS announced it would not participate in the 28 March and 1 April action after its members voted to accept a revised pay offer. The AHDS has announced that its Teachers Panel will vote to accept when it meets on 14 March.

On 24 February 2023, the SSTA announced it would also defer its strike action planned for 28 February and 1 March 2023, “in light of the members response in [a] survey […and in the] expectation of an improved pay offer in the coming days”. On 9 March the SSTA announced its members had voted to accept the most recent pay offer and bring the dispute to an end.


Members of the NEU in Wales were called to strike on Thursday 2 March 2023. This represented a resumption of strike action. They were also being called to participate in the strike action on 15 and 16 March 2023. However, on 10 March the NEU announced that, following a revised pay offer which would be put to members, those strikes have been called off.

Earlier NEU action had been planned for 14 February 2023, but this was postponed following a revised pay offer from the Welsh Government on 9 February 2023. However, NEU Cymru ultimately rejected the pay offer. 

In Wales, NEU strike action also involves non-teaching members, ie school support staff.

Welsh union, Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru (UCAC) balloted its members on strike action. Its ballot didn’t meet the turnout threshold, with 45% of members returning ballots. Of those that did return ballot papers, 89% voted for strike action.

The NASUWT ballot for Wales fell just short of the turnout threshold, for state-funded settings.

NAHT Cymru’s ballot achieved the required turnout for members in Wales, with a large majority voting in favour of strike action, and the union has called on members there to take action short of a strike. It planned to ballot members on the Welsh Government’s new 9 February 2023 pay offer, but decided not to do this, saying that progress had stalled owing to “a lack of details on proposals, timescales and implementation, coupled with continued concerns over funding”.

Northern Ireland

Members of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) took strike action on the morning of 21 February 2023as did members of NASUWT in Northern Ireland, members of the Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU), and the NEU. NAHT in Northern Ireland did not participate in the strike on 21 February.

On 1 March 2023, INTO published a statement on the agreed position of the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (NITC) pay negotiating body, saying:

The NITC met earlier this week to discuss our next steps and gave consideration to a proposal for strike action on the 16 March. Unfortunately, this date is no longer considered viable.

As we move forward together, we will be looking at dates in April as well as collectively examining our action short of strike action.

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