Waltham Forest school staff strike for better pay

Staff across the borough walked out yesterday to secure better funding for schools

The picket line at Chase Lane Primary School (credit: NEU)

Waltham Forest school staff joined a nationwide strike this week in a fight for a pay rise and better funding for schools.

Teachers and support staff from schools across the borough walked out on 15th and 16th March, as part of collective action organised by the National Education Union.

Speaking previously to the Echo, Waltham Forest NEU district secretary Pablo Phillips said funding for Waltham Forest schools is “particularly inadequate” compared to other parts of London, meaning wages are low and schools are often unable to afford basic lesson materials.

He said the problem is “more acute” locally than other boroughs because of Waltham Forest’s outer-London status, which further reduces the amount it receives per pupil in government funding.

Pablo said: “Waltham Forest is, in essence, a borough with inner-London problems, in terms of deprivation and other social issues, where teachers receive pay at an outer-London rate.

“That’s not fair and affects recruitment and retention. The stories we are hearing from our members show there are staff shortages and often a lack of other resources as well because schools simply do not have the funds to pay for things kids need, like books.”

A rally outside the Chingford Assembly Hall (credit: NEU)

However, Pablo said he was cheered by the support striking staff have received from the community, including parents, other unions and the council.

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He added: “What we have done has created a community spirit. That’s what strike action does: it makes you feel powerful.”

Yesterday, at Chase Lane Primary School in Chingford, staff formed the school’s first ever picket line as they joined hundreds of other workers walking out across the borough.

One NEU member said: “It was a brilliant morning standing alongside our colleagues in support of our school, our staff and our children. 

“The funding issue is something that affects everyone involved, which is why we felt it was important to come together and show that enough is enough!”

(Credit: NEU)

The NEU is calling for a payrise of 12%, compared to the 3.5% offered by the government so far, arguing that pay has fallen by almost a quarter in real terms since 2010. 

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “As a Government, we have made a serious offer to the leaders of the National Education Union: pause strikes, get round the table and talk about pay, conditions and reforms.

“It is hugely disappointing the NEU has thus far refused this serious offer and has not joined the Royal College of Nursing in calling off strikes.

“Instead of sitting round a table discussing pay, the NEU will once again cause disruption for children and families.

“Children deserve to be in school, and further strike action is simply unforgivable, especially after everything children have been through because of the pandemic.”

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