Teachers' strike will close schools

THOUSANDS of parents in Suffolk and Essex are still in the dark over whether or not their children's schools will close next week because of an upcoming teachers' strike.

Craig Robinson

THOUSANDS of parents in Suffolk and Essex are still in the dark over whether or not their children's schools will close next week because of an upcoming teachers' strike.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is staging its first walkout for 21 years on Thursday April 24 over a pay dispute.

However last night its representatives said it was too early to say how many staff would be taking industrial action and what schools would be affected.

So far 13 schools have announced they will have to close in Suffolk - while a further seven will be partially shut with some classes or year groups suspended for the day.

In Essex as many as 600 schools could be affected by the strike, although staff members are not legally bound to tell headteachers that they are walking out until 48 hours before.

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Graham White, an association secretary with the Suffolk Branch of the NUT, said: “We don't know the situation at the moment. Hopefully by the end of this week we should have a clearer idea and we will let people know as soon as possible.

“I think closures will be patchy and will vary from area to area and between primary, middle and secondary schools.

“We have a large membership - around 3,000 - which covers the majority of schools in Suffolk but not every member will strike.

“My wish would be for every school in Suffolk to close because that would mean NUT members had come out to support their union and their colleagues.”

Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex Branch of the NUT, said the union would know next week what how many schools had been affected.

“The practical reality is that many secondary schools will close because these teachers tend to take a number of classes,” he said. “Some primary schools will close, in other individual classes might be suspended for the day - it depends how many NUT members they have.”

The strike is set to be exacerbated by other teaching unions, which have advised their members to do nothing to fill the gaps left by striking NUT staff - leaving headteachers struggling to cover classes.

And many of the region's colleges could also be severely disrupted on the same day, as members of the University and College Union (UCU) are staging a walkout.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council: “The best advice is for parents to keep in touch with their school. More information will be available in the local media as we approach the date.”

Simon Walsh, Essex County Council's cabinet member for schools, children and families, said he did not agree with the avenue the NUT was going down in its attempts to resolve the pay issue.

He said: “I would urge the NUT members to think carefully before taking action. In the event of a strike it would be up to the schools themselves to determine how to manage the disruption, but we would do all we can to advise and guide them.”

Both the NUT and UCU are taking action in protest at the size of government pay deals.

The NUT is demanding an increase from the offer of a 2.45% rise for this year and 2.3% for the next two years to at least 4% - the level of inflation, while UCU is pressing for a rise of either 6% or £1,500, whichever is the higher.

School closures in Suffolk:

Waldringfield Primary

Beccles Middle

Gisleham Middle

Foxburrow Middle

Leiston High

Leiston Middle

Saxmundham Middle

Denes High (closed but some sixth form provision may be available)

Thorndon Primary

Warren Special School

Worlingham Middle

Worlingham Primary

St Christopher PRU

Partially closed schools in Suffolk:

Thomas Wolsey (Foundation and key stage 1 will close. Key stage 2, 3 and 4 will remain open)

Cedar Wood Primary (Two classes will open. No details as to which as yet)

Hadleigh Community Primary (Classes 6EC, 6J, 3M and 3WB will close)

Rushmere Hall (Four classes will open. No details as to which as yet)

Reydon Primary (Only nursery will open)

Wetheringsett Primary (Only years 5 and 6 will open)

Whitton Green Primary (Nursery and year 3 will be closed)

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