Teachers’ strike: Thousands of schools shut across England

Oct 17, 2013 by

Thousands of schools are closed across much of England as teachers strike over pay, pensions and jobs.

Teachers in London, Cumbria, the South East, North East and South West are taking part in the one-day strike.

The action is part of a continuing campaign of regional strikes involving members of the NUT and NASUWT unions.

Education minister David Laws described the strike as “bad for pupils and bad for parents” and said government policy would not change.

Large rallies are being staged in Bristol, London and Durham.

Teachers are objecting to proposals by Education Secretary Michael Gove to bring in performance-related pay, increase their workloads and make changes to their pensions.

‘No other choice’

Twenty out of 33 London boroughs have provided information to BBC London 94.9 about the number of schools affected so far.

Of those, about 445 schools are completely closed and 450 partially closed.

Head teacher Roberta Kirby, from Fernhurst Junior School, in Portsmouth, said the government had “declared war” on teachers, as more than 200 schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are affected by strikes.

She said: “If we cannot offer good wages and a pension that staff pay into that reflects the work they do, then we are not going to be able to attract the best graduates.”

Responding to the impact of the strike, some parents said they had found it difficult to find alternative childcare.

Andy Eastham, from Swindon, said his 15-year-old son asked him: “How can teachers hope to prepare us for the real world when they refuse to get into it themselves?'”

And the BBC’s Sarah Ransome said: “People in Plymouth have been telling me that finding alternative childcare because of the strike has been ‘quite a headache’.”

A similar walkout by teachers took place in the east of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber region on 1 October.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the union regretted the disruption caused to pupils and parents but teachers felt they had “no other choice”.

She said: “Mr Gove has done nothing to address the crisis of low morale in the teaching profession which threatens the continued provision of high quality education.”

‘Disrupt parents’ lives’

Striker holds placard showing Michael Gove’s face The march in Bristol has seen Michael Gove receiving the brunt of teachers’ anger

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the “overwhelming majority of teachers” would be on strike.

She said: “Teachers are committed and dedicated public service workers. They do not take strike action lightly.

“No teacher has any wish to inconvenience parents or disrupt pupils’ education, but this action is not the failure, or due to the unreasonableness, of teachers.”

Plans for a national one-day walkout before Christmas have also been announced by the two unions.

Mr Laws said: “The right way to fix education policy is either by talking with the government or through the ballot box, and not taking industrial action.

“I think that is the view of the vast majority of teachers who I don’t think will be striking today even in those areas where the NUT and NASUWT are trying to take action.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education (DfE) said it was “disappointing” the unions were taking industrial action.

The spokeswoman said: “All strikes will do is disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.”

Schools Minister David Laws says striking teachers are “disrupting the education of young people”

via BBC News – Teachers’ strike: Thousands of schools shut across England.

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