7:10am Thursday 10th October 2013
By Sian Davies
PARENTS are being warned to expect disruption as schools across Hampshire brace themselves for industrial action by teachers planned for next week.
Both the NUT and the NASUWT are planning a joint day of action by staging a oneday walkout on October 17, meaning some schools could close.
The region is the last to be affected by a series of rolling strikes that have seen teachers walk out for a day in other parts of the country in the last few weeks.
Unions say the depth of feeling among members over plans by the Government to reform their pension agreement, and changes being made to pay and conditions, has forced them to take the action. Parents are being warned that some schools could close or partially close if not enough staff turn up for work on the day.
However, head teachers in Southampton said they would do their utmost to remain open in some capacity to limit the impact on pupils’ education and disruption to families.
Susan Trigger, executive head of a number of schools in the city and head teacher at Bitterne Park School, said: “Of course we don’t know exact numbers but our aim is always to be, at the very least, partially open and have Years 7 and 8 in.”
Her views were echoed by Jonty Archibald, head teacher at Regent’s Park School, who said he would hope to have as many students in as possible, although the school day would not run to a normal timetable.
He said: “As long as we have the right number of staff in to properly look after the pupils then we will be open to as many pupils as possible.”
Across Hampshire, schools have been written to by the county council as the local education authority, advising staff of the implications of taking industrial action and reminding them that they will be docked a day’s pay if they join the walkout.
Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for education, said: “I hope the decision of unions to ask their members to take part in an industrial day of action does not lead to widespread disruption to pupils’ education.
“Our number one interest is the children and it’s sad when things happen that disrupt the children’s education.”
Among the schools affected is Perins in Alresford.
In a letter to parents, head teacher Janice Bernard said that the school would be open for Year 7 and 8 pupils whose parents cannot make alternative arrangements.
Mrs Bernard said: “I need to stress that we will be unable to run any classes, so students will need to bring activities that they can undertake – independent learning, reading and other similar work.”
Pual Watkins, NASUWT representative for Hampshire, said that teachers are already “struggling to cope” and a below-inflation pay rise was a pay cut in real terms.
He urged Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, to renegotiate with teachers and added: “This isn’t selfish or motivated by greed – no teacher takes industrial action lightly. This is done with deep regret but we believe it is the right principal.
“We want Mr Gove to come to the table and negotiate with us and look at our concerns.”
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