Opinion: NEU teacher strikes are only placing pressure on parents as the government has got comfortable with school closures
As children in Suffolk come back to the classroom after another week of spending more time out of it than in, there are suggestions more ballots for teacher strikes are on the cards.
Numerous work places now trial a four-day working week and if we don’t see some sign soon of ministers trying to resolve this dispute I’ll start to wonder whether the Department for Education might be just as comfortable with such an arrangement for children too, writes columnist Lauren Abbott.
Between bank holidays, a coronation and industrial action – and polling stations commandeering school sites in some instances last Thursday – attendance has been taking quite the hit.
Members of the National Education Union (NEU) in England have held three regional and five national strike days since February – the most recent on May 2 shut down more schools than ever.
Anecdotal evidence after that walkout also suggests many parents took children out on Friday as well – the only compulsory school day standing between 6 consecutive days off thanks to two strike dates, a bank holiday and the weekend – in order to take a cheaper holiday perhaps in favour of another home school battle.
It’s been well documented that children’s attendance has suffered since the pandemic.
Many, particularly teens struggling with what can be a difficult environment, have discovered they feel more comfortable away from classes than in them while parents have developed a more relaxed approach to missed learning - particularly with smaller children of primary school age.
But with few signs the government is ready to come to the table with a deal – and even fewer sightings of education ministers publicly reassuring us they’re doing everything possible to get a resolution – is the DofE developing a laissez faire attitude of its own?
As a society, I fear we have become so accepting of school shut downs that education ministers feel very little pressure to do everything possible to keep those classrooms open.
Perhaps prior to a pandemic – teacher strikes heading for double figures would have sent shockwaves through the heart of government - seemingly not any more.