Teacher's Strike Will Disrupt Schooling Across East Cambs

PUBLISHED: 14:02 22 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 May 2010

Witchford Village College

Witchford Village College

SCHOOLS across the district will be closed on Thursday as teachers stage a walk-out. The National Union of Teachers has called a one-day strike over pay, the first national strike in 22 years. Parents will be left with potential childcare problems as hun

SCHOOLS across the district will be closed on Thursday as teachers stage a walk-out.

The National Union of Teachers has called a one-day strike over pay, the first national strike in 22 years. Parents will be left with potential childcare problems as hundreds of pupils are forced to stay home.

Up to 2,500 teachers across Cambridgeshire are set to stay away from work, which may force some primary and secondary schools with high NUT memberships to close.

Witchford Village College is one of the worst affected, with half of the teaching workforce absent.

"NUT members told me much earlier than they would have needed to," said head teacher David Taylor, "so we've been able to plan. Year 11 pupils will come in to complete coursework but the college will be closed to years seven-10."

"We do have a problem with cover," he added. "Other teachers won't cover for their colleagues that aren't there. They regard that as crossing the picket line."

At Earith Primary School, all 129 pupils have been told to stay away for the day. Head teacher Sue Spooner said: "It is always a tough decision to close the school but having explored all the options we felt we had no alternative, bearing in mind the health and safety of the children."

All other primary schools in East Cambridgeshire will remain open, except Downham Feoffees, which will have to lose two classes.

Jon Dunveen, secretary of Cambridgeshire NUT, said: "It [forced closure of schools] is an inevitable consequence of strike action.

"We wouldn't wish it, but this is the only way to get our voices heard."

The NUT wants teachers' pay to rise at least above inflation, which it puts at just above four per cent - the pay rise offered was just 2.45 per cent.

Mr Dunveen added: "Something like 50 per cent of newly-qualified teachers leave teaching within three years and the main reason given is pay.

"Members' pay has been dropping down below inflation for five years now, while other pressures have been building up."

Of the secondary schools spoken to by the Ely Standard, City of Ely Community College is sending home years seven and nine, and Soham Village College will also close.

Ian Gartshore, principal at City of Ely Community College, told the Ely Standard 18 members of staff are on strike.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: "The NUT has the largest representation amongst Cambridgeshire schools, so it is possible that in some places it may be necessary for a school to close, although support staff and non-union members will be in.

"In other schools it is likely to be patchier as the union membership will be split amongst the six teacher unions. In some places the impact should be negligible."

At the time of going to press, Mr Dunveen said it was possible a last-minute pay deal would avert the strike but he believed action was likely to go ahead.

Do you support the teachers' strike? How will you be affected? Contact the Ely Standard on 01353 667831 or e-mail editor@ely-standard.co.uk

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