Teacher strikes

Teacher strikes: How the ‘exemption’ to support exam pupils will work

NEU members will be given 'dispensation' to work on strike days to support year 11 and 13 pupils

NEU members will be given 'dispensation' to work on strike days to support year 11 and 13 pupils

Union members given an exemption to support exam year pupils during strikes should be paid for a full day even if they only work for part of one, the National Education Union has said.

Teachers given “dispensation” by the union to work will also be encouraged to donate pay from industrial action days to the union’s hardship fund for their striking colleagues.

The NEU pledged last month to ask districts to make local plans for year 11 and 13 students so they could continue to go to school during strikes planned for April 27 and May 2, which are around two weeks before exams begin.

Now the union has published its guidance for these arrangements.

It states the union will support arrangements that provide the “minimum level of teaching staff needed to allow year 11/13 to attend school for supervised revision activities or exam practice”.

However, the guidance only aims to “minimise disruption”, the union said, and “only the government, by coming back to the negotiating table with a much-improved offer, can eliminate that disruption altogether and avert these upcoming strikes”.

There is “no expectation” classes will taught by their usual teacher on strike days, and schools can’t require any teacher to attend work.

If arrangements are reached with heads, however, the NEU would request its members participate “where needed”.

“In extremis”, where members are asked to attend school for part of the day to supervise an exam year group, they should “attend for this purpose only and leave work afterwards”.

“If this is part of the negotiated agreement, then our members cannot be compelled to do this, but the union will authorise it,” the NEU said.

“Agreement should be sought from the head teacher that no pay is to be docked even if the member has not worked the full day.”

Members encouraged to donate pay

The union also warned that if the arrangement results in some staff attending work for the whole day to deliver year 11 or 13 provision, this increased staffing “should not be used to widen school opening to other year groups that the school would otherwise be closed to”.

If union members are paid for strike days because they supported exam students, the union “would encourage them to donate to the hardship fund to support colleagues suffering significantly greater than average hardship through loss of pay for striking”.

If the agreement means schools partially open for year 11s and 13s, the NEU said it “may be acceptable and appropriate” to ask teachers responsible for those year groups to set cover work that can be delivered in their absence.

However, requests to set work for other year groups “will not be agreed to”.

The agreements must be negotiated by NEU reps and heads “as equal partners in making arrangements that work for each school”.

If a school does not have a rep, a member “will need to be elected by the membership to take on this role”. If this is not possible, members should “approach their branch officer in the first instance, or else contact their regional office”, the union said.

If schools try to impose arrangements that are not agreed by NEU reps and members, the union said it “retains the right to remove this dispensation guidance for exam year group provision”.

“In any case, if no agreement can be found, the default position is that members cannot be obliged to make any dispensation arrangements for year 11 and year 13 provision.”

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