If teachers strike, what will this mean for supply teachers?

Photo of Duncan Verry
Duncan Verry
CEO, Airsupply
Jan 20th 2023 in Teacher Pay
Following the announcement this week from the National Education Union the largest teaching union in the UK, teachers strike action by its members is looking extremely likely.

What does this mean for Supply teachers? 

Teachers strike

Teachers strike - Supply teachers who are members of the NEU

Some supply teachers will be on longer-term contracts within schools and may have decided to join with their colleagues should strikes go ahead. Of course, this would be a personal decision. Similarly to teaching staff employed directly with education authorities and academies, it is likely, schools will not make payments for teachers attending strike days. 

Supply teachers will have an even bigger decision to make, as the ‘cost’ to a supply teacher is likely to be higher than that of a directly contracted teacher. 

Teachers are deducted 1/365th of pay for each day they strike, but because many supply teachers have a daily rate based on 195 days of work (aggregated to be their annual salary) they lose 1/195th of their pay. So many supply teachers are already almost 50% worse off in terms of a loss for a day of strike action.

Teachers strike - Supply teachers who are not members of the NEU 

Supply teachers on the whole don't get paid if they don't work. If those supply teachers choose to strike or the school closes, then they are unlikely to be paid.

In the worst event, on-strike days schools may have to close. This could then affect all supply teachers, irrespective of their union status, or their personal position. This then becomes a moot point for teachers that were not members of a striking union, especially if they are scheduled to work, or are working longer-term contracts. Should schools feel an obligation to pay those teachers? The jury is out on that, we’ll have to see how schools respond. 

If strike action wins a pay award, will this increase supply teachers pay?

Supply staff payments will not be directly increased as a result of pay awards to directly employed teachers. Supply teacher pay is an area which also needs to be addressed. Many agencies take a very large slice of the payments made by schools, whilst others, ourselves included, award on average £30 to £40 more than is typical. So, supply teachers need to look at their options. Airsupply is supported by Twinkl and others that care about teachers. Airsupply is helping to put teachers at the forefront. 

If teachers strike - Summary 

Supply teachers are likely to be in demand on teachers strike days. There is some likelihood in the event of school closures that some payments may be lost even for non-striking supply teachers. Supply teachers on strike will potentially lose a higher proportion of their annual salary than their permanent colleagues.  

For the best pay rates generally, it pays to work for agencies that put supply teacher pay at the forefront

Latest update - Projected NEU Teacher strike days

Lastest announced NEU teacher strike dates:

Tuesday 28 February 2023: all eligible members in the following English regions: Northern, North West, Yorkshire & The Humber.

Wednesday 1 March 2023: all eligible members in the following English regions: East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern.

Thursday 2 March 2023: all eligible members in the following English regions: London, South East, South West.

Wednesday 15 March 2023: all eligible members in England and Wales.

Thursday 16 March 2023: all eligible members in England and Wales.

Contact point

For those that are working with Airsupply please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have specific questions. We’ll be posting regular updates on our Facebook social channels regarding teacher strikes, so don’t hesitate to follow us. 

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