Headteachers set for industrial action in Northern Ireland

Written by: Simon Doyle | Published:

​Headteachers in Northern Ireland are taking industrial action for the first time.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) says that school leaders have been placed under intolerable strain during the past eight years. Continued industrial action by the main teaching unions, coupled with a lack of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive, is pushing members “to their limit”.

The union represents principals and vice-principals in about two-thirds of the North’s schools. The dispute relates to workload, the inspection process, consultation and support for schools.

NAHT’s Northern Ireland president, Geri Cameron, says that school leaders’ efforts are being taken for granted and members feel over-worked, under-valued and without protection.

While a majority of members indicated in a ballot that they would be willing to walk-out, the industrial action will not include a strike.

The union is asking members not to engage with or enact any process associated with redundancy procedures within schools which are a direct consequence of budgetary constraints. They will also snub training events, unless they are about safeguarding, and will avoid area learning community meetings.

Furthermore, like the teaching unions, they will not engage with inspections “other than for legitimate matters of safeguarding” and they will refuse to provide a school development plan and targets or updates to employers or the Education and Training Inspectorate, save for those working in schools in “formal intervention”. No telephone calls or emails will be responded to before 9am and after 3pm, either.

Ms Cameron said: “Any action will be directed towards the employers who have failed to end the dispute which focuses on workload, the inspection process, consultation and support for schools. We will work towards minimising any impact upon learners and their families.”

She added that the union remains open to further negotiations with employers.


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