Schools to shut as teachers walk out
THOUSANDS of children across Swindon have been told to stay away from school today as many are closed due to a teachers’ strike.
A large number of primary schools and secondary schools are closed for the day, with many operating a limited capacity.
The dispute is over pension contributions, wages and working practices and members of the NUT and NASUWT in Swindon have gone on strike as part of a regional day of action.
Many of the teachers will be heading to a rally in Bristol in an attempt to send a message to the Government.
The unions said they are safeguarding the long-term future of the education system but many parents are frustrated at the inconvenience of having to provide extra cover.
“A friend of mine and his wife both work from 8.30am and it has proved problematic for them.
“I don’t think the strike is necessary – it’s just an excuse to get a day off work.”
Geraldine Brant, 47, has two children at Nythe Primary School, which is partially closed for the day.
She said: “The biggest argument being put forward is that whenever you try and take your children out of school to have some quality family time the school threaten you with fines and letters and they show you a chart of what percentage of time you take them out of school has a detrimental effect on them.
“Then they refuse to teach the children, which must be equally as detrimental.
“Edward is old enough to look after himself but the parents of the younger ones at Dorcan have major financial costs as a result of the strike, either because they have had to employ childminders or they have to take a day off work to look after them.”
Wayne Armstrong, parent of a student at St Joseph Catholic College which is closed, said: “For a child’s education the strike is not desirable. “The union have taken a perspective and they have the right to do that. “It would more convenient for the children if they did not go ahead with this, but they have the right to protest and we have to respect that.”
The schools have had to make a decision on whether to open depending on the number of union members among their staff.
Despite the frustration of parents, the unions say the anger should be focused towards Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has repeatedly hit the teaching profession.
Peter Smith, the Swindon representative of the NUT, said: “I am very encouraged by the level of support this action has received from teachers.It is a message to Michael Gove that we will not take any more.
“Teachers have faced a wage freeze and pension contribution increases and the time has come where enough is enough.
“Combine this with the long hours teachers work and the assault on the curriculum and the time has come for people to take a stand.We hope the Government will start negotiations.”
- Are you a parent affected by today's strikes? We want to include your views in a piece for tomorrow's paper. Call reporter Mike Benke on 01793 501795 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
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