Teacher strikes

Strikes: Government to introduce minimum service levels in schools

Ministers say if a voluntary agreement is not reached with unions, it will use powers through the new strikes law

Ministers say if a voluntary agreement is not reached with unions, it will use powers through the new strikes law

Ministers are set to introduce minimum service levels in schools and colleges, in a move branded as an “overtly hostile act that attacks the basic democratic freedoms of school leaders and teachers” by education unions.

The Department for Education said the proposals will “put in place protections for children, young people and parents to ensure education can continue during any future strike action”.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan has written to union leaders inviting them to discuss proposals on a voluntary basis in the first instance. 

DfE said “she is clear” that should a voluntary agreement not be reached, the government “is committed to using powers” granted through the controversial Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act introduced earlier this year. 

This would lead to a consultation and is “expected to include a range of models” for minimum service levels in education. 

It follows more than 10 days of strike action in schools this year in a dispute over teacher pay and working conditions. Government says 25 million school days were lost cumulatively. 

Keegan said: “We cannot afford a repeat of that disruption – particularly as schools and teachers continue to work so hard to help children recover from the pandemic. 

“I am asking the teaching unions to engage with us and agree to put children and young people’s education first – and above and beyond any dispute.” 

‘Overtly hostile act’

But unions have reacted with fury to the news.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said “the move is nothing short of an overtly hostile act from the government and an attack on the basic democratic freedoms of school leaders and teachers.

“At a time when the government should be building bridges with the profession, the timing of this couldn’t be worse. Not only are the government’s proposals for minimum service levels fundamentally undemocratic, they are utterly unworkable in a school setting.”

Daniel Kebede, of the National Education Union, said they 'strongly opposed' minimum service levels
Kebede

Daniel Kebede, National Education Union general secretary, said they “strongly oppose” the plans, adding: “We do not acknowledge the validity of MSLs given their impact on the fundamental right to strike, therefore we do not believe this is an appropriate topic for the government or Department for Education to regulate.

“Gillian Keegan should turn her attention to the fact that every day in schools a level of service well below what should be expected is experienced by children and young people.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of heads’ union ASCL, said this is “nothing more than an attempt to distract from her department’s own shortcomings”.

He added it was “unimaginable that there will any agreement over legislation that involves removing the basic rights of employees. Industrial action is only ever taken as a last resort, when all other options have been explored.”

The government first proposed minimum service levels last year. It has consulted on introducing them in ambulance, fire and rail services.

Earlier this year, heads told Schools Week any plans to introduce them in schools would be “nonsensical”.

Latest education roles from

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

Platanos College

Teacher of Boys’ PE

Teacher of Boys’ PE

Platanos College

Head of Girls’ PE

Head of Girls’ PE

Platanos College

Art Teacher

Art Teacher

Platanos College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Teacher strikes

NEU votes to hear pay offer before balloting for strikes

Conference rejects proposal for a ballot to start in early June

Freddie Whittaker
Teacher strikes

Teachers could strike again in September, says NEU leader

Ballot should be held over 'fairly significant' period if conference green-lights formal vote, says Daniel Kebede

Freddie Whittaker
Teacher strikes

NASUWT: 78% reject move to formal pay strike ballot

'Political campaigning to secure a government prepared to fix the damage...must now be the priority'

Freddie Whittaker
Teacher strikes

NEU indicative ballot: Members back strike action over pay

Executive will meet next week to discuss next steps after 9 in 10 back walkouts on a turnout of...

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One comment

  1. John Davies

    Gillian Keegan refused to meet with teachers leaders during the striKe.
    Did that mean that she was on strike as well?
    This is just a continuation of Thatcher’s hatred of trade Unions.
    This government is not concerned with the exceptional work done by the majority of teachers in theUK.