Members of NASUWT are going to walk out tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday in a dispute over pay.
Headteachers have written to parents setting out the impact the strikes will have and what pupils and students need to do.
A DESC spokesman said: ‘The government had made every effort to limit the disruption on the strike days, however the NASUWT has not confirmed the number of teachers taking part in the strike action. This has left 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.’
It says parents should ensure they’ve received and read the communication from their child’s headteacher setting out what impact the strikes will have and the action they need to take.
Arrangements are in place for children and young people who receive free school meals to be provided with lunch on strike days.
The NASUWT is the only teaching union in dispute with the Manx government – a point underlined yesterday in a government press release.
NASUWT, which says it’s the largest teachers’ union in the island but has not said how many members it represents, says that teachers’ pay levels in the Isle of Man have historically been determined by the UK Government in Westminster and this means Manx teachers’ pay has been subject to the pay restraint and freezes imposed by the UK Government. It also means pay awards take no account of local circumstances.
This has resulted in a real-terms cut of around 30% since 2010 when measured against Retail Price Index inflation, however teachers have also incurred higher pension and National Insurance contributions making the impact far worse. This pay erosion is far higher than that experienced by teachers in the UK, Guernsey, or Jersey.
A spokesman said: ‘These cuts are unsustainable.
‘They are not only having significant impacts on teachers’ lives, they are also impacting on the ability of the Isle of Man to recruit and retain good teachers, putting the future economic prosperity of the whole island at risk.
‘In addition to pay, there are also significant issues around workload and working practices that are also driving good teachers out of the classroom.’
NASUWT members say they have first-hand testimony from many members having to take second or third jobs to make ends meet.
The union says: ‘Others have had to resort to food banks or seek assistance from the Salvation Army. Others are relying on credit cards. Many regret moving from the UK, and feel let down by the government.’
The union says it understands that the level of pay erosion cannot be solved overnight, and is not seeking an immediate 30% pay increase but a pay rise phased over a number of years.
Yesterday, the DESC released a press statement saying that every teacher and lecturer in the Isle of Man would receive a pay rise next month of between 8% and 11.9% with the higher salaries coming into effect before Christmas.
Four of the island’s five recognised teaching and lecturing trade unions accepted the government’s recent pay offer.
It means newly qualified teachers working in the Isle of Man will have a starting salary of £36,557. In England, outside of London, the starting salary for teachers is £28,000.
The DESC said: ‘The new pay scales should act as a significant incentive, attracting teachers to the Island while helping to retain those already working here.
‘The increase in teachers’ salaries, which varies depending on pay band, will be backdated to September 1, 2022, with arrears being paid as a lump sum in February 2023.’
Julie Edge MHK, Minster for Education, Sport and Culture, said: ‘This pay deal recognises and rewards our hardworking and dedicated teachers and lecturers. The pay award, which goes above and beyond the recommendations of England’s independent pay review body, will make Manx schools and University College Isle of Man even more attractive to the teaching profession.
‘The pay award recognises the outstanding contribution teachers make to our society and provides a sustainable and affordable pay structure which best supports recruitment and retention. It will strengthen the Island’s offering to the profession, helping to attract the most talented candidates to teach our children and young people.’
She added: ‘The Isle of Man Government has committed to and commenced a full funding review of education, with the outcome due early in 2023.
‘Over the last two years, the department and unions have worked effectively to generate positive change on a number of areas and I look forward to continuing this positive relationship.’
This year’s pay award builds on last year’s settlement which, combined, sees teachers receive pay rises of between 10.3% and 18.7%.
Although the NASUWT has not accepted the pay offer, however its members will receive next month’s pay rise.
The NASUWT strikes come as an escalation of industrial action, which has seen members withdraw their support for a number of activities including cover for school break times.
University College Isle of Man does not anticipate that courses tomorrow or on Thursday will be affected. In the event that courses are affected, UCM will contact students on the day.
At Castle Rushen High School years seven to 10 (aged 11 to 15) will not be attending school. Teaching over the internet is being organised.
Year 11 must only attend mock examinations relevant to them. Sixth formers must attend their mocks and all lessons that are going ahead. They will be told by their form tutors what lessons will go ahead.
The special needs unit is open. Some on-site provision will be offered to ‘vulnerable’ pupils.
Head teacher Keith Winstanley said: ‘I am aware of the impact that these arrangements might have on our young people and their families, but I have been left with no other option given the potential number of teachers that will be on strike.’
At Ballakermeen High School, years seven to 11 are being told to stay at home.
Year 10 who normally attend lessons at UCM on a Wednesday morning should continue to do so. They should make their own way to UCM and make their own way home after their lesson.
The sixth form will remain open. In the situation where a teacher is not striking, lessons will go ahead. For the remainder of the time, students should complete independent study.
At Queen Elizabeth II High School in Peel, year 13 (aged 17 and 18) will attend their pre-planned mock exams, and study at home, as they already have a revision week.
Year 12 will attend school as normal.
Sixth form collaboration will continue and if a teacher is not present then students will be encouraged to study in school.
University College Isle of Man courses will continue to run on Wednesday, November 30, transport will be provided as normal.
All other students will remain at home and will access learning the internet.
A small number of vulnerable students may be invited into school in order to facilitate their online learning.
Sixth form students should go to St Ninian’s High School as normal while all other year groups should stay at home and plan to work in online classrooms.
The exception is Year 11 students who have a UCM taste session on Thursday, December 1. Those students should go to University College Isle of Man for 9.30am and then go home again at 12.30pm.
At Ramsey Grammar School, all year 12 and year 13 students should go to school as normal on both days.
For lessons where their teacher is present, they will have their normal lesson. For any lessons where they do not have a teacher present, students will carry out independent study.
Collaboration lessons will also go ahead as planned.
Year 11 students will remain at home for the two days and have remote learning provided with the following exception; on Wednesday afternoon some Year 11 students have UCM lessons. These lessons will be going ahead as usual and therefore the students involved should catch the UCM bus at the usual time outside the east building.
Students in Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 should remain at home on the two strike days and plan to access their learning remotely via the remote learning links provided. Students should try to follow their school timetable of lessons.
All students have access to Microsoft Teams Year Group pages where remote learning links will be provided in a timetable format.
Head teacher Sarah Findlater told parents: ‘We are working tirelessly to ensure the provision is the best we can provide under the circumstances.’
The strikes will take place November 30, December 1, January 11, January 12, February 15 and February 16.