Schools to close as teachers walk out

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Schools across the area are likely to be closed this Thursday as teachers walk out on strike in a row over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Members of the National Union of Teachers and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers in Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford Teachers are taking action which will result in school closures, part closures and marches and rallies.

The Eastbourne rally will meet at 11am at the Town Hall on Thursday morning.

Union members are under no obligation to tell headteachers if they will be striking so many schools have decided to close in anticipation of staff members not turning up.

Phil Clarke, secretary of Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT said, “This strike is being called as part of a national programme of regional strike action that has been effective across the county.

“The strike is a result of Michael Gove’s and the Department for Education’s attacks on teachers’ pay, pensions and working conditions.

“Our members are responding in great number to the strike call. Strike action is a last resort for teachers but anger at school closures must be directed at the government.

“Without genuine negotiations Michael Gove has introduced divisive pay systems that set teacher against teacher, torn up pensions so teachers will be in the classroom to 68 and is now planning to remove our right to proper planning time, limits on workload and even our hard fought for right to a lunch break.

“We have been left with no choice except industrial action if we are to defend teacher professionalism and educational standards.”

A spokesperson at East Sussex County Council, the education authority, said, “While we understand teachers have concerns over pay and pensions, we are disappointed the unions have decided to resort to industrial action.

“The education of our children should be an absolute priority and nothing should disrupt that. We would urge the unions to seek other ways of resolving these issues.”

Ocklynge School in Eastbourne is closing on Thursday and teachers there have defended their decision.

In a statement they said, “We would like our parents to know why we have taken the difficult decision to take part in strike action on Thursday. We have not made this decision lightly and we are aware that it may cause difficulties for parents and children; for this we apologise.

“However, looking at the bigger picture, we have grave concerns about many of the proposed changes to our education system and the consequent impact on the children we work so hard to educate; changes we have not been consulted on and changes the vast majority of teachers oppose.

“As we believe these changes will be detrimental to children’s education, we feel it would be negligent on our part to stand by and allow them without some form or protest.

“We feel we need to make a stand in this way as Michael Gove doesn’t seem to listen to the mainstream opinion of hundreds of thousands of teachers.”

Seaford’s largest school Seaford Head said it would not know until this morning (Tuesday) as to whether it would be closing.

“The NUT and NASUWT only confirmed the number of teaching staff looking to take strike action on the afternoon of Friday October 11,” said a school spokesperson.

“Since the strike was announced, the school has been updating parents of the situation through its weekly Parent/Carer Bulletin which can be found on its website. The school will finally confirm its arrangements with parents on Tuesday morning.”