Strike action looms for district's schools

PUBLISHED: 10:24 28 June 2011

STRIKE action planned by national teaching unions is expected to cause widespread disruption for pupils and parents across the district on Thursday.

Dozens of staff at the district’s three main secondary schools are expected to join the picket lines, with a mixture of closures and reduced timetables likely.

The strike action by the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which represent more than 30,000 teachers nationwide, stems from a dispute over pensions.

Union leaders claim Government proposals will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.

The Government has insisted however, that the changes are fair and affordable.

“Strike action is not a move that any teacher, lecturer or head teacher takes lightly,” the Cambridgeshire branch of the teaching unions told the Ely Standard, “Educating our pupils is the most important aspect of our working life. We take action to protect the quality of education in Cambridgeshire, because if the Government’s proposals go through teachers will drop out of the pension scheme, potentially making it unviable.”

On Friday, Witchford Village College head David Taylor confirmed that closing the Manor Road School for the day was unavoidable due to large numbers of stuff joining the industrial action.

Though only a quarter of its staff were joining the action, the City of Ely Community College will only be open to pupils in Year 7 and 8 on Thursday because of legal restrictions surrounding covering lessons.

“We are unable to accommodate students in the other year groups as 25 of our staff have informed us that they will be taking strike action on that day. Although this is just a quarter of our teaching staff, it is against the law to cover their lessons with other teachers unless those covering teachers are members of the senior leadership team,” a letter to parents explained.

At Soham Village College a limited number of classes were expected to be available but on Monday, headteacher Dr Carin Taylor made the decision to close the college.

“We regret having to take this decision,” she told parents in a letter, “but having considered all of the other available options and the guidelines provided by the unions, we believe that it is the only decision that we can make in the circumstances.”

Lessons will carry on as normal at the King’s School.

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