Every effort is being made to keep schools open during six days of strikes planned by teachers who are members of the trade union NASUWT, but asking students not to attend school on strike days cannot be ruled out.
The message from the Minister for Education, Sport and Culture Julie Edge MHK came as the Government continues with its contingency planning for the strike action.
Headteachers will be writing to parents in the next few days to provide an update on how their child’s school may be affected.
Strikes were announced by the NASUWT on 3 November, after the union rejected what the Minister called a 'fair and generous' pay offer.
The NASUWT has not confirmed the number of teachers taking part in the strike action, leaving the Government with no alternative but to plan on the basis that every teacher who is a member of the NASUWT will strike on all six days.
The Minister said:
'I understand and share the concerns that parents, children and young people will have over this strike action and the disruption it will cause to learning. I want to assure them that we are making every effort to limit the disruption on the strike days.
'I cannot, however, rule out the possibility that some students may be asked to not attend school on these days. This is the last resort and would be a decision for individual headteachers if it is felt there will not be enough staff available to ensure the safety of children.'
The strike action is only being carried out by teachers who are members of the NASUWT.
Staff who are members of the National Association of Head Teachers, the National Education Union, the Association of School and College Leaders and the University and College Union are not taking part in the strike action.
The Minister added:
'I believe we have made a fair and generous pay offer to our teachers. We are continuing our efforts to resolve this dispute and we will keep the public updated on any developments.'
Strike action by the NASUWT is planned on the following dates:
- Wednesday 30 November 2022
- Thursday 1 December 2022
- Wednesday 11 January 2023
- Thursday 12 January 2023
- Wednesday 15 February 2023
- Thursday 16 February 2023