Teachers' strike could close Exmouth schools

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 June 2011

Exmouth schools could be forced to close for a day if a planned teachers' strike goes ahead.

Both the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have voted in favour of a national strike on June 30.

The strike has been called as a response to government plans to reform teachers’ pensions, along with those of other public sector workers.

The government says teachers should retire later, and should receive pensions based on their career average earnings rather than their final salary.

The proposed walkout has been criticised by Devon County Council, who say that the strike will cause disruption for children and their families.

Devon’s cabinet member for schools and learning, Councillor Christine Channon, said: “This industrial action will disrupt children’s education and may force families who can’t organise child care to take time off work.”

Mrs Channon said schools would have to decide for themselves if they would close during the strike.

“Individual schools in Devon will take their own decisions on whether their staffing will be so depleted that they will have to close.”

Lympstone Primary School headteacher and head of Exmouth Learning Action Group, Tony Priest, said that teachers felt very strongly about the government’s pension plan.

He said: “This is an issue that teachers are very disappointed and angry about, because it seems to them to be an issue of significant unfairness.”

Mr Priest said his own school will be forced to close five of its six classes if the strike goes ahead, and said that other schools in Exmouth could be similarly affected.

“In those schools that have got significant numbers of staff who belong to the unions, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them are going on strike.”

Exmouth Community College’s Acting Principal Graham Allen said that the school would be doing its best to minimise disruption.

He said: “We do have members of staff who are in the two unions, and it’s a matter for them how they respond.

“Our intention at the moment is to remain open. We will put in plans for a range of eventualities and do the best we can to provide a day’s schooling for the students.

“We will write to parents nearer the time to let them know the arrangements.”

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