National strike action: February/March 2023

In the last week, we have seen the announcement of national strike action by the National Education Union (NEU) which has caused much interest in the public domain and amongst our staff, parents and carers.

We’d like to be really clear: our trust leader, Mark Hassack, along with the trust board, absolutely respect the rights of our staff to take lawful strike action. We live in a democracy and the right of individuals to withhold their labour should be protected. We know that SBMAT staff value our position on this.

We have, in the last week, asked our staff to let us know if they will be taking part in the strike action. Obviously there is no requirement on their part to let us know whether they will be taking part and we have made sure our staff know that this is the case. For those who choose not to tell us, they know that we accept and respect this position. However, having this information will enable us to let parents and carers know as soon as possible and with as much certainty as possible, whether the strike action will affect the school provision for their children on the strike days, which are planned for 1 and 28 February, and 15 and 16 March 2023.

On the strike days we are planning to operate with all of our schools ‘open’ as a starting point, in line with DfE guidance. However, we realise and understand that this position may need to change depending on the information we have. We are aiming to let all parents and carers know whether the strike action will affect their children’s provision on Monday 23 January, as we feel that this gives reasonable notice to enable them to make arrangements for childcare should this be necessary.

Despite the dispute being with central government and not South Bank MAT, we are trying to work with our staff and the National Education Union to respect the principles of the industrial action and also to enable parents and carers to be able to plan for childcare in the event of any closure or partial closure of our schools. It’s a fine balance but an important one. We are not making decisions prematurely, nor are we waiting until the last minute, thus causing a problem for parents and carers.

Whilst this is a difficult situation for all concerned, as a family of schools we will do all that we can to not only support our staff but also the parents and carers of our pupils.

Update: 20 January 2023

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