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Schools to close on Thursday as teachers walk out again

MANY schools across Wales will close again this Thursday (March 2) when teachers go on strike for a second time in a continued row over pay and funding.

Hundreds of schools closed on February 1 for the first strike by members of the National Education Union. 

Councils have said that they are unsure how many school closures will take place but have begun to publish lists. Parents are being asked to contact their child’s school, as well as check media posts and school’s social media pages for up-to-date information. 

Union members initially suspended further strikes while talks continued with the Welsh Government, but rejected a new pay offer from the education minister Jeremy Miles and will now strike again on March 2. Two additional strike days are planned for March 15 and 16.

The renewed offer would have given teachers an extra 1.5% pay rise, plus a one-off cash bonus which is equivalent to 1.5% of a teacher’s salary, in addition to the initial 5% pay offer. Union members claimed that it was “just not good enough”. 

Some local education authorities have published lists of schools they know will shut on Thursday, but have said there may be more and the lists are likely to change. 

Councils have also said they won’t know until the day of the strike which schools will be running as normal.

Staff are not obligated to inform head teachers if they plan to walk out so the full situation won’t be clear until Thursday. 

A work to rule by school leaders, who have also rejected the new offer on grounds it does not address working conditions, means headteachers will not  provide cover for striking teachers. Online learning will not be provided during the strike action.

The heads work to rule means they will not provide cover for striking teachers or information on who is striking. They will also limit their availability to receive and reply to phone calls and emails prior to 9am and after 3pm.

Councillor Phil Wynn, lead member for education at Wrexham Council, said: “We understand parents’ concerns as there will inevitably be disruption on Thursday, March 2, and we are working with schools to manage this in the best way possible. The full extent of the industrial action, however, will not be known until the day itself.”

The NEU will protest in the Senedd on March 2nd, with a strike day rally beginning at 11.45am. Mary Bousted, joint general secretary, will speak at the event, which is expected to draw hundreds of striking teachers.

The strike coincides with teacher strikes in England, and members of the National Association of Headteachers Cymru, including head teachers and school leaders, have also rejected the current offer. Members of NAHT Cymru claimed the Welsh Government’s updated salary offer was too imprecise and did not address their concerns about workload.

The heads’ work to rule means tasks they won’t do include providing cover for striking teachers or information on who is striking. They will also restrict their availability to receive or respond to calls and emails before 9am or after 3pm.