Teachers' strike: Thousands of schools shut in England

  • 17 October 2013
  • From the section England

Thousands of schools were closed across much of England as teachers went out on strike over pay, pensions and jobs.

Teachers in London, Cumbria, the South East, North East and South West have been taking part with nearly 3,500 schools shut or partially closed.

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

Prime Minister David Cameron said the strike was "inconvenient for parents" and "not good for pupils' education".

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

'Declared war'

Major rallies have been taking place in Bristol, Durham and London, with smaller events in other areas, including Brighton, Carlisle and Plymouth.

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.

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

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

And in Tyne and Wear, at least 471 schools were affected by the industrial action.

Head teacher Roberta Kirby, from Fernhurst Junior School, in Portsmouth, said the government had "declared war" on teachers.

More than 200 schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were affected by the action.

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."

'Dedicated workers'

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

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.

Ms Blower 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."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the "overwhelming majority of teachers" were 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."

'Very disappointing'

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

Speaking to BBC Sussex, Mr Cameron said responsibility for the strike "lies with the teaching unions".

"I think it is very disappointing they have decided to go on strike," he said.

"And when we look at the things they are striking over, pensions and pay, they are things that have been decided independently by well-led reviews.

"I was at my children's school today in London. One class was not there but the rest of the school was operating.

"So, every praise to those teachers who have gone ahead and kept our schools open for our kids."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education (DfE) said 27% of the schools in the affected regions were closed. However, there was no figure available for how many were partially closed.

She said: "The NUT and NASUWT have tried to create as much disruption for pupils and parents today as possible.

"In spite of this, thanks to many hardworking teachers and heads, only around a quarter of schools in the targeted regions were closed today."

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