Teacher strikes

Teacher strikes: Half of northern schools close or restrict attendance

Around one in three pupils missed school in regions affected by today's walkout, attendance data suggests

Around one in three pupils missed school in regions affected by today's walkout, attendance data suggests

Around half of schools in the north of England closed to at least some pupils today as a result of strikes by teachers in the National Education Union, attendance data from a sample of schools suggests.

The union estimated around 200,000 teachers in England and Wales will walk out today, Wednesday and Thursday in regional strikes across the country in a continuing dispute over pay and school funding.

Today, members in the north east, north west and Yorkshire and the Humber went on strike.

Data from school management information system provider Arbor suggests just over half of schools (51.5 per cent) across the three regions closed to at least some pupils.

Secondary schools were far more likely (77 per cent) than primary schools (46.8 per cent) to close to at least some pupils.

The data also suggests around a third of pupils in the region were absent, though absence varied by phase and pupil characteristics.

For example, absence was higher – above 37 per cent – among disadvantaged pupils in the north west and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Absence was also much higher among secondary pupils in the north west (45.7 per cent) and Yorkshire (53.4 per cent).

Secondary schools far more likely to close

Overall, 53.1 per cent of schools in the north east, 50.6 per cent of schools in the north west and 46.1 per cent of schools in Yorkshire and the Humber were closed to at least some pupils.

Around 4.3 per cent of north east schools were fully closed, while 31.3 per cent were closed to most pupils.

In the north west, 10.7 per cent were fully closed and 29.5 per cent closed to most students. And in Yorkshire and the Humber, 6.3 per cent fully closed and 25.6 per cent closed to most pupils.

There were also quite big variations across regions by school phase.

For example, the proportion of primaries closing to at least some pupils varied from 41.8 per cent in Yorkshire to 54.4 per cent in the north east.

Secondary closure rates ranged from 60 per cent in the north east to 80.5 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber. And special school, closures ranged from 30 per cent in the north east to 57.9 per cent in the north west.

The analysis is based on data provided by around 10 per cent of schools in the north east and north west, and around 14 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber, that use Arbor’s management information systems.

DfE ‘mischief making’ over NEU boss’s holiday

Tensions between government and unions have flared in recent weeks.

Ministers’ demands to call off this week’s strikes in exchange for “formal” talks ended in a stalemate after the government failed to come up with concrete proposals.

The Mail on Sunday reported at the weekend that NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted was on holiday in Norway when education secretary Gillian Keegan offered intensive talks, and then missed a meeting while she was away.

But fellow joint general secretary Kevin Courtney today slammed the government for “mischief making”.

“I was at that meeting. Mary had a long-booked cruise over half term holiday that she’d booked with a friend…a couple of years before. And we agreed she could go to that because I would be at the meeting with the secretary of state,” he told Sky News.

Courtney also revealed that schools minister Nick Gibb also missed the meeting because he was on a half term break.

“Why do they tell you one part of that and not the other? It’s just mischief-making on their part, and it damages the prospect of reaching an agreement, because they destroyed trust in the negotiation process.”

Courtney said today that 50,000 people have now joined the NEU since the ballot results were announced in January.

“It’s not me and Mary making people go on strike. Teachers have had enough. They want the government to invest in them, invest in their profession and invest in the education of the children in our schools.”

Tomorrow’s strike will affect schools in the East Midlands, West Midlands and east of England, while Thursday’s walkout will take place in London, the south east and the south west.

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