Schools urged to stay open for GCSE and A-level students if teachers go on strike

Ministers are set to plead with schools to keep classes open for GCSE and A-level pupils if unions announce on Monday that strike action by teachers will go ahead. The

National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) are due to make the results of ballots for industrial action public. Whitehall insiders

and trade union figures believe that the NEU, the largest education union with 300,000 members, will reach the turnout threshold needed to hold strikes. The outcome of the NAHT

ballot is said to be more in the balance. The Department for Education has drawn up guidance to be issued to all schools in England on Tuesday morning if strike action by at

least one of the unions is announced. The Telegraph understands that the advice will urge headteachers to keep classes open for groups facing exams this summer, amid fears

that walkouts could see entire schools return to lockdown-style remote learning.'Planning for the worst' “The stakes could not be higher,” said one Whitehall source familiar

with preparations. “We are hoping for the best but planning for the worst, and all things in between.” Another cohort that government ministers will ask schools to

prioritise are children with special educational needs and disabilities. However, the advice is not binding, with schools making the final decision. There is no minimum

service level agreement with the teaching unions, meaning that it is unclear how many classes, if any, will still be held during any walkouts. Ministers are pushing through

legislation that will give them the power to impose such a requirement, but it is not expected to pass Parliament until the summer at the earliest.