Frequently asked questions about action short of strike action in England

For information about the industrial action in place in some schools and sixth-form colleges in England, commencing Monday 18 September, please see the Action Short of Strike Action Instructions and the FAQs below.

Find your school’s result from the recent ballot using our searchable database.

Should members be asked by the headteacher what action short of strike action they will be taking?

No. Your employer will receive a formal notice of the action instructions and a copy of them so they will be well aware of what action members will be taking.

Asking individuals could be viewed as harassment or an attempt to intimidate a member of a union taking lawful action.

Members of the leadership team in my school are being asked to compile information on other teachers about what action they will be taking. Is this appropriate?

No. Your employer will have been fully informed of the action instructions and they should plan accordingly.

Such activities as questioning individual members of staff could be deemed to be harassment and an attempt to intimidate.

If you are approached for the information, simply refer the person concerned to the action short of strike action instructions and guidance on the NASUWT website. If they persist, you should contact the NASUWT immediately for advice.

I have joined the NASUWT since the ballot took place. Am I eligible to be involved in the escalated action short of strike action?

Yes. Providing you are in one of the categories of members to whom the action instructions apply and you are working in a school with a mandate for action.

What rights do I have if the school insists that I cannot take action short of strike action?

No employer is entitled to prevent a worker from taking industrial action that is the result of a lawful ballot.

With the exception of the police, armed forces and prison officers, all working people, including teachers, have a legal right to take industrial action and no employer has the power to remove that right.

Isn’t industrial action likely to upset parents and the public?

The NASUWT industrial action strategy is designed to be pupil, parent and public-friendly, freeing teachers to do what parents and the public expect of them, which is to focus on teaching and learning.

The NASUWT’s rationale for calling industrial action is that we want to ensure the provision of high-quality education.

The action short of strike action is pupil, parent and public-friendly. Nothing in the action short of strike action will damage children’s education.

The action short of strike action removes the tasks and burdens from teachers which distract them from teaching and learning.

Teachers in some schools have been told that the school does not recognise the NASUWT and therefore members cannot take part in industrial action. Is that correct?

No. Whether or not your employer recognises the NASUWT is irrelevant.

The dispute is with the Minister of the Crown. The relevant legislation confirms that a dispute with a Minister of the Crown will be treated as a dispute with the employer where the dispute relates to matters which cannot be settled without the Minister exercising a power conferred on them by legislation.

Recognition of the NASUWT does not alter this position.

What rights do members have if they participate in industrial action?

Some employers may take a hostile view of industrial action, including threats to deduct salary. There is absolutely no reason why they should consider participation in action to be inappropriate or unprofessional.

There is a legal entitlement for teachers and other workers to be engaged in lawful industrial action. The NASUWT took detailed legal advice to ensure that its ballot and action meet the provisions of the legislation and therefore members are protected by the lawful ballot.

If your employer makes hostile comments or seeks to put pressure on you about your participation in industrial action, you should advise your employer that:

  • you have a legal and democratic right to ballot and take action;

  • the action is national and is nothing personal to them as an employer, but is the only vehicle by which the trade dispute with the Minister of the Crown can be addressed and resolved;

  • the action is focusing on supporting teaching and learning.

The NASUWT will strongly defend any members who are threatened as a result of participating in industrial action.

My school is in special measures. Is it exempt from the action short of strike action instructions?

No. The action short of strike action instructions are about working to raise standards.

Schools in special measures need even more to focus on supporting teaching and learning, therefore the instructions apply.

If there are any particular issues about the application of the instructions, then further advice and support should be taken from your NASUWT Local Association or National Executive Member.

What are my requirements for Open Evenings?

Generally what is meant by the term ‘open evening’ is the kind of event where parents of prospective pupils come along one evening to find out more about what the school can offer with a view to encouraging them to send their children there. There are also similar events for existing parents. Attendance of teachers at such events is usually voluntary.

There is no requirement under the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) for teachers to attend open evenings, but where staff do decide to attend these on a voluntary basis this should be counted towards their working hours for the purposes of calculating directed time and 1,265 hours.

For teachers that do have a contractual obligation to attend open evenings, this must be counted against the 1265 hours for directed time.

Under the Union’s ASOSA, members can refuse to volunteer to attend open evening events, even where this is counted as directed time or where such attendance has not been subject to consultation or agreement with the NASUWT.

In some cases the term 'open evening' is used by schools to describe the statutory parental consultation meetings that parents of pupils are entitled to once a year to discuss their child's report with the relevant teacher. This is different from an open evening and our action instructions are not inducing members to refuse to co-operate with this statutory duty.

Will taking part in ASOSA affect my pay?

Your pay and pensions are unaffected by taking ASOSA. If, however, your employer makes any suggestion that your pay will be reduced as a consequence of you engaging with ASOSA, you must contact the NASUWT immediately for further advice and support.


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