South East next as strikes continue

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London and the South East of England are bracing themselves for school closures next week as the NASUWT and National Union of Teachers (NUT) continue their campaign of industrial action.

On October 1, More than 2,500 schools in 49 local authorities were closed as members of the two unions took industrial action over pensions, pay and workload.

The strike was part of a rolling campaign of regional walk-outs, which are due to hit London and the South East next Thursday (October 17). A national one-day strike is also being planned for after half-term as the unions step up their campaign against cuts to teachers’ pensions and changes to pay and conditions, including the move to performance-related pay.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said teachers could not “stand by and watch our profession be systematically attacked and undermined”.

She continued: “There can be no doubt left about the feeling of anger towards this government’s treatment of the teaching profession. Strike action is never a step that teachers take lightly and we are very aware and concerned about the inconvenience it causes parents.

“Unfortunately we are faced with a coalition government that is refusing to listen to the reasonable demands of the profession.”

NUT member, Ian Lever, from Leicester, said: “Teachers are very angry about what is happening to the education system in this country and are prepared to make a stand on it.

“These are relentless attacks from this government, not just on our pay and conditions but on the education system in general.”

The action on October 1 affected schools in the Midlands, North and East of England. Alison Core, a Shropshire primary school teacher, said: “Teachers do not want to strike but we feel we have no choice: “Our jobs should not be about pay and targets. The bigger picture is the education of the children and with so many fast changes in the industry, we cannot lose sight of that.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Strike action is a last resort, teachers have been left with no choice but to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the face of their genuine concerns being dismissed and trivialised.

“Teachers of course deeply regret any disruption to children and families. Action would have been unnecessary had the secretary of state been prepared to engage in genuine discussions.”

A Department for Education spokesman said the action was “disappointing” as the government’s measures were designed to “allow heads to pay good teachers more”.


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