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More than 100 schools crippled by strike action in county
STRIKE action crippled more than 100 schools across Worcestershire today - with frustrated parents voicing their anger.
The controversial walk-out closed at least 40 schools in the county and partially-shut more than another 64.
Today Worcester MP Robin Walker criticised the strikers for “defying reality”, but a Worcester head teacher hit back by saying the Government “is not listening” to their concerns.
The row has also split parents across the county, with some backing the teachers stance but others venting their fury at having to fork out for childcare.
Bryony Baynes, head teacher at Kempsey Primary School, which was closed all day today, admitted parents are “bewildered” but said she understood.
“We have had some feedback from parents, I think bewildered is the right expression to use, there is some anger and I understand that,” she said.
“From the mood I’ve picked up generally, people are very unhappy but there are a lot of underlying issues which have led to this.
“One thing that gets lost is that teachers are being asked to work until 68 - when you’ve got a lot of very young children to look after, that’s very difficult.
“I am not saying we need to offload them but you need young blood in the profession, we have to have that influx.
“I don’t think Michael Gove (the education secretary) is listening to teachers in general - he’s got his fingers in his ears.”
Alun Williams, head teacher at Nunnery Wood High School in Spetchley Road, said: “We’ve been partially-closed, we’ve had some Year 11 pupils in.
“I’ve had very little feedback from parents, just one email expressing disappointment in a very reasonable way.
“We did make an offer parents that we could occupy their children, but nobody took us up on it.”
Some parents in Worcester backed the walk-out, but others said it left them out of pocket.
Josie Hady, writing on our Facebook page, said: “ I understand why teachers are striking, don't get me wrong.
“But I don't see how it is fair on families who will lose a day’s wage because they have to look after their children instead of sending them to school.”
Fellow parent Lauren Partridge wrote: “Why don’t they strike during the summer holidays? Kids are losing learning time.
“It makes me angry because people have to work and they have to make other arrangements.”
But parent Ali Hunt said: “It's lovely to have a bonus day with my daughter - people should be able to stand up for themselves, so teachers have my full support.”
ROBIN WALKER ATTACKS UNIONS FOR “DEFYING REALITY”
ROBIN Walker said the strike action should never have happened - describing it as “aggressive political posturing”.
The Conservative MP says the two unions who organised it, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT, are “defying reality” by it.
He said: “An awful lot of teachers did go to work and they deserve enormous credit for that, so I want to pay tribute to them.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve got a strike, driven by the NUT that focuses on issues which affect all of the public sector, and the private sector too.
“It’s defying reality to say ‘we must save our pension conditions’, because if everyone insisted on paying the same contributions the system would run out of money.
“There’s a lack of logic in what they are saying, it’s aggressive political posturing, but I am impressed by the numbers who went into work.”
The strike action resulted in thousands of teachers walking out in 49 local authority areas covering the West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside.
The NASUWT said the “overwhelming majority” of staff across the four counties did take part in it.
Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Strike action is a last resort, teachers have been left with no choice but to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the face of their genuine concerns being dismissed and trivialised.”
The teachers main gripes are over proposals to introduce performance-related pay and up pension contributions, including a bid to ask staff to work until 68.
The Department for Education called the walk-out “disappointing” and insisted it was about allowing heads “to pay good teachers more”.
More regional strikes are due to take place on Thursday October 17, although that will not affect Worcestershire.
Among the schools closed completely today were: Hindlip CE First, Kempsey Primary, Malvern Parish CE Primary, Malvern Wells CE Primary, Newbridge Secondary PRU, Oldbury Park Primary, Perdiswell Primary, Simon de Montfort Middle, St Andrew's CE First (Evesham), St Clement's CE Primary, St George's CE Primary (Worcester), Stanley Road Primary, The Bewdley School & Sixth Form Centre, The Chase School, Tibberton CE First.
Among those partially closed were: Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, Christopher Whitehead Language College, Droitwich Spa High, Dyson Perrins High, Evesham High, Fort Royal Community Primary, Gorse Hill Community, Great Malvern Primary, Grove Primary, Hanley Castle High, Martley CE Primary, Northwick Primary, Nunnery Wood High, Nunnery Wood Primary, Pershore High, Pitmaston Primary, Prince Henry's High, St Barnabas CE First & Middle, St Barnabas Primary, Tenbury High and The Chantry.
For more details visit worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/school-information/school-closures/today.aspx
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