Teachers strike: The simple chart that shows why they've walked out today
Teachers are among the half a million workers on strike on Wednesday in the biggest day of industrial action in a decade.
Most state school teachers in England and Wales were given a 5% pay rise last year, but unions say this was effectively a pay cut because of inflation is more than 10%.
Now a chart, shared by Sam Freedman, a former adviser at the Department for Education, shows how real terms pay for primary school teachers has fallen since 2010 – highlighting why they have felt they have no option but to strike.
Freedman, a senior policy adviser to Michael Gove between 2010 and 2013, said the figures explain "why there's a strike today".
Real terms pay for primary teachers in England vs other OECD countries. This is why there's a strike today. pic.twitter.com/U6WdOM5DEZ
— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) February 1, 2023
Despite an increase from 2015 to the present day, the level still sits some way below the average real-terms pay for primary teachers in other OECD countries.
The figures, which were released in October last year by the OECD, found that England is in fact one of the only countries where salaries have declined in real terms over the past decade, falling by more than 6% between 2010 and 2020.
The pay increase seen since 2015 in England has also been lower than the OECD average for experienced teaching staff.
While the chart concerns pay for teachers in primary school, the OECD said that there was an overall decrease in average actual salaries for lower secondary school teachers.
Watch: Education secretary: Unions need to move over pay demands
Salary increases (4%) for those teachers in England also stood below the OECD average (6%).
While teachers are staging strikes across the country, education secretary Gillian Keegan said she expects the “majority” of schools to remain open in England and Wales – but added that “some will have restrictions” for different cohorts.
The National Education Union (NEU) joint general secretary Mary Bousted said about 85% of schools are expected to be either fully or partially closed by the strike action.
Groups representing parents have released a joint statement in support of members of the NEU.
The statement – signed by the parental organisations Save Our Schools, Rescue Our Schools, Let Our Kids Be Kids, Special Needs Jungle and Square Peg – makes clear that parents support teachers in their demand for “fair pay”.
The groups say they share the concerns of educators that children’s education is being harmed because of a lack of qualified teachers and turnover of staff, and calls on the government to engage with the union to negotiate a settlement and avoid the industrial action.
Asked about government’s response to the teachers’ strikes, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “They never thought we’d reach the (strike ballot) threshold.
“Since we’ve reached the threshold, 40,000 more people have joined the union as well.
“So it does show there’s a huge strength of feeling within the profession, that the government must act and put things right.”