Education secretary tells striking teachers to warn schools ahead of walkouts to avoid 'unnecessary disruption'

28 January 2023, 17:29 | Updated: 28 January 2023, 17:32

Gillian Keegan wrote to education leaders on Friday
Gillian Keegan wrote to education leaders on Friday. Picture: Alamy

By Adam Solomons

Striking teachers have been urged to warn schools before this week's walkouts to 'minimise the impact on children'.

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Education Secretary Gillian Keegan asked for unions' "cooperation" ahead of strikes that will involve 150,000 teachers at around 23,000 schools in England and Wales from Wednesday.

There is no obligation for teachers to inform schools before strikes.

But, Keegan said, pre-warning will allow headteachers to "take important operational decisions to protect children's learning".

Read more: Teacher strike dates 2023: When are they striking and will schools close?

Read more: When are the train and rail companies going on strike again? Latest information and dates

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan says she won't meet with union leaders today

The Cabinet minister wrote in a letter to unions on Friday: "I understand the importance of maintaining teachers' right to strike, but I hope this important right can be protected whilst minimising the impact on children - especially in the context of the disruption they have faced due to Covid.

"With that in mind, I am calling on the National Education Union to encourage their members to alert their headteacher if they intend to take strike action on Wednesday.

"Your co-operation would help ensure our dispute does not cause additional and unnecessary disruption."

This teacher says she wasn't going to strike until Gillian Keegan lied

National Education Union (NEU) joint general secretary Kevin Courtney accused Keegan of trying to make a “cheap political point”.

Mr Courtney said this afternoon: "On Friday the Department of Education failed to meet the deadline to submit its evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body.

“Instead at one minute to five she sends her letter seeking to score a cheap political point.

“We hope the Secretary of State will bring forward concrete proposals to end this dispute and avert the strike action.”

Ministers will meet union leaders at 2pm on Monday in a final bid to avoid industrial action.

Gillian Keegan says she 'hopes' teachers won't strike but admits it's within their right to do it.