On the 28th November, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a government consultation around Minimum Service Levels for Education. The consultation will run until 30 January 2024
The consultation is seeking views on the most appropriate approach for delivering minimum service levels (MSL) in education services and evidence on the impact of strike action.
The MSL would be delivered through regulations. If implemented, these regulations would mean an employer, in this case, a school, college, local authority, or university, could issue a work notice to require individuals to work during strike action in order to deliver a minimum level of provision. If introduced, the regulations would be brought forward under the powers provided to the Secretary of State in the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023. Interestingly however, it will be “at the discretion of individual employers whether or not to issue work notices” to deliver minimum service levels, and the government’s consultation makes no reference to any form of enforcement of the policy.
An interesting article in Schools Week (29th November) highlighted that if it’s not mandatory for schools, it will put a lot of pressure on heads and school leaders. The article also raises concern how the proposals may lead to potential inequity of how colleagues will be treated across the system.
Will this extend to all school settings?
The first question from the consultation asks if the settings proposed to be in and out of scope are correct.
The consultation document suggests that settings in scope of an MSL would include Special Free Schools as well as Special Academies (this includes special, boarding, and residential Academy/free schools).
Independent Special Schools and Non-maintained Special Schools are both out of scope under the proposals as they stand. The reasoning given, that in these sectors union membership is generally lower, and DfE believe that the likelihood of these settings facing significant disruption from strike action is minimal.
Settings, as employers, may wish to respond to this consultation question.
For those settings within scope, the consultation provides an opportunity to share your views around processes, priority cohorts and whether all primary pupils should be seen as a priority cohort. The consultation also asks for views around a system of cohort rotation when strike days last for a number of consecutive days.
The consultation also asks a series of questions around experiences and impacts of previous strike days.
The consultation document can be found at: Minimum Service Levels for Education - government consultation
Should you have any further questions, please contact NASS Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Mari Davis - email@example.com.