Parents’ backing of teachers jumps as new polling shows sharp rise in parental support for industrial action
Teachers represented by the National Education Union (NEU), the largest teaching union, are due to take further strike action tomorrow and Thursday over pay and educational funding, affecting schools across England. This follows strike action that took place nationally on 1st February and regionally on other days in recent weeks. Parentkind polling in late January revealed that parents broadly supported the strikes and wanted to see teachers awarded a pay increase.
With many parents having to support their children at home during the industrial action, often at a cost to already stretched family finances, Parentkind’s second poll (completed March 13th), sought to understand parents’ feelings as we enter the second national strike. The results (which exclude those working in education) show:
- A leap in support of industrial action to 63%
- A drop in opposition to strike action from 40% in January to 29% today
- 72% of parents agreeing that teachers should receive a pay settlement in line with current inflation, even though
- 73% say they have faced disruption due to the teachers’ strikes.
Disruption on family life caused by the strikes has seen more than two in five (42%) parents said they had to take time off work, where more than a third (34%) had to arrange additional paid or unpaid childcare. Furthermore, it seems that there is an increasing awareness of teacher recruitment and retention challenges, with 83% of parents now being concerned about the impact of teacher shortages at their child’s school. Despite all of this, their support for the teaching profession has grown and opposition to strike action has waned.
Parentkind’s CEO Jason Elsom, said: “Parentkind is an apolitical organisation that represents the views of parents as essential stakeholders in their children’s education. Our polling demonstrates that parents understand that teachers are not immune to the cost-of-living crisis we all face today, and that they are concerned with the well-being, retention, and recruitment of great teachers, who they entrust with the care and development of those they hold most dear.
Nobody, least of all parents, wants to see schools closed and children’s education disrupted, but there is an increasing urgency to prioritise educational funding, so that we can deliver a world-leading education system, with the capacity to support our children in becoming thriving adults in an uncertain world.”
Dr. Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: “We are grateful for the support and understanding parents have shown for our dispute. Parents see daily the effect that teacher recruitment and retention crisis, alongside woeful school funding, is having on their children’s education.
The responsibility for the continued strike action lies squarely with the Education Secretary. The Education Secretary needs to understand that it is not only teachers who have had enough of an education system that is falling apart at the seams. Our children and their teachers deserve better.
The NEU has said time and again that we are ready and willing to start serious negotiations on pay. Gillian Keegan’s digging in of heels, and refusal to engage through Acas, has meant that England yet again lags behind other countries.
While we sincerely apologise for this disruption on Wednesday and Thursday, we know that parents recognise and support the NEU’s call for investment in education, for investment in this generation of children, the generation hit so hard by Covid”
Geoff Barton, Secretary General of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Nobody wants to take industrial action, and it is clear that teachers are striking only as a last resort following years of real-terms pay cuts and systematic workload pressures. This survey shows that the majority of parents understand this and are on the side of teachers. We urge the government to reconvene talks with education unions and put a meaningful offer on the table which ends the industrial dispute and addresses the underlying teacher recruitment and retention crisis.”
About the Research
Parentkind second strike poll (England only)
Polling was carried out between 8th and 13th March 2023. 1,058 parents who are not currently working in or employed by a school responded. Two thirds of parents (68%) have a child in primary school and 56% a child in secondary. See full results.