Video: 50 schools in Suffolk and Esssex closed as teachers join national NUT strike
15:20 26 March 2014
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) staged a national one-day strike over pay, pensions and conditions today.
The dispute centres around higher contributions to pensions, raising the retirement age, and what teachers say is an increasing level of bureaucracy and changes to the curriculum.
Suffolk County Council reported 16 local authority-run schools were shut and 59 partially closed due to the strike across the county.
The figure does not include free schools.
Around 100 protesters gathered at the Giles Statue in Ipswich town centre for a rally and speeches, including by some parents, before marching through the town centre.
Andrew Rowe, vice-president of the Ipswich Association of the NUT, said: “This part of our union’s campaign Standing Up for Education which covers a lot of issues, not just pay and pensions but also the incessant changes coming out of government these days.”
Addressing criticism from some as to why the strike was not held during school holidays or on a teaching training day, Mr Howe said the event helped raise the profile of the union dispute.
Janet Shanks, a teacher at the rally, added: “The central belief is this is for the good of our pupils - we would not here if it was not for them.
“We want a better future for them, and some parents are very supportive of that aim.”
The strike prompted anger from some parents and politicians.
Lisa Chambers, county councillor for education, said: “Suffolk County Council is committed to ensuring the best possible education for the children of Suffolk and one school closed is one too many when you’re working to improve educational attainment.
“On this occasion the majority of schools across Suffolk remained open and I’d like to thank headteachers and staff who prioritised the children in this argument.
“It’s important now both sides get round the negotiating table on a national level and resolve this dispute.”