Teacher strike forces school closures

Strike at Scarborough Sixth Form.NUT Picket at the entrance.Picture Richard Ponter 134007a
Strike at Scarborough Sixth Form.NUT Picket at the entrance.Picture Richard Ponter 134007a

Schools were forced to close their doors on Tuesday after a mass walk out from teachers in a row over pensions and funding cuts.

Eighteen schools and colleges were either closed or partially closed in Scarborough on Tuesday as the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) called its members out, leaving parents having to find last minute arrangements for their children.

The two unions represent nine out of 10 teachers between them, and their members are angry about changes to their pensions, increased workload and about plans to bring in performance-related pay.

Staff at Scarborough Sixth Form College (SSC) in Sandybed Lane were on the picket line on the morning of the strike, handing out leaflets to students and passing motorists.

Stewart MacDonald, the NUT representative at the college, said that they had received a lot of support from parents.

He said: “Obviously we do not take going out of strike lightly but we have been left with no choice.

“Teachers in Wales are not on strike as they are having discussions with their government but that is not the case here.

“Scarborough Sixth Form College is going to see nearly a 20 per cent cut in its funding next year. We are striking to try to protect standards in Sixth Form Colleges and prevent increasing class sizes, the axing of courses and enrichment programmes, longer staff contact hours and increasing teacher workload and stress.”

The pensionable age for teachers could also be increased to 68 under the government’s proposals.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government’s measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more.

“Industrial action will disrupt pupils’ education, hugely inconvenience parents and damage the profession’s reputation in the eyes of the public at a time when our reforms are driving up standards across the country.”

There seemed to be a mixed reaction from Scarborough News readers who commented on the strike on our website and Facebook page.

Alex In Scarborough, wrote that: “Teachers are very well paid. They’re supposed to be intelligent people so why can they not sort out their own pension plans as people in the private sector have to?

“This enforced ‘day off’ will be causing a lot of parents in full time work to spend the best part of a day’s wage having someone look after their kids.”

Yepitsd added: “This won’t be a decision that any teacher has taken lightly. This is about standing up against a man who is fundamentally changing education in negative ways in direct contradiction to evidence, advice and the recommendation of experts.”

In Scarborough only Hertford Vale School in Staxton managed to fully open its doors on the day of the strike, with Frirage Community Primary School, SSC, Braeburn Infant and Nursery and Seamer and Irton Community Primary School all partially open.