Handling strike action in schools

Guidance on what to do when school staff go on strike.

Applies to England


Handling strike action in schools


This is for:

  • governing bodies
  • headteachers
  • school leaders
  • school staff

It applies to:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies and free schools

It includes guidance on:

  • how to keep schools open
  • the law on trade disputes and picketing
Published 6 June 2013
Last updated 9 August 2023 + show all updates
  1. We have updated the 'Directly employing individuals' section of the 'Handling strike action in schools' guidance.

  2. Publication updated to provide further information on prioritising pupils, the law on industrial action and picketing, providing free school meals to eligible pupils and calculating pay deductions for part time workers.

  3. The guidance has been updated to ask schools to prioritise vulnerable children and young people, children of critical workers, and pupils due to take public examinations and other formal assessments where they have no option but to restrict attendance. Other updates include changes to regulation on engaging with agency staff, providing remote education where practical and reasonable to do so, and best practice on managing staff shortages.

  4. This guidance has been revised to refer to current regulations and advice.

  5. Updated section 8 on managing school meals options on a strike day.

  6. Updated link to statutory early years foundation stage framework, and updated section 8 to clarify schools’ options for managing school meals on a strike day.

  7. Replaced publication with updated departmental advice.

  8. Replaced publication with updated departmental advice.

  9. First published.