PARENTS have been addressed in a letter from Wiltshire NUT secretary Mike Harrison, who has explained the union’s reasons for staging a teachers’ strike next week.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has called a one-day national strike for next Wednesday, with schools across Swindon likely to be affected.
Isambard School has around 30 members of staff in the union, amounting to almost half of its teaching staff, so has already sent a letter to parents saying it will not be open for the day.
Youngsters in Years 7, 8 and 9 at Lydiard Park Academy have also been told not to come in if the strike goes ahead while Kingsdown School has asked parents to name a place of safety their child can go to in case the school has to close at the last minute because of the industrial action.
Teachers are not obliged to tell their employers whether they are on strike until the day, while teachers in other unions have been told not to provide cover and supply teachers are not available on that day.
Swindon Council is unlikely to know whether primary schools will be open or closed until just before the strike date.
In addressing any frustrations parents and carers have, Mr Harrison has said the strike has been called to protect pay, pensions and ensure teachers’ workloads allow for the best teaching possible.
He wrote: “The changes the Government want to make that we believe are damaging include teachers working until they are 68 or beyond, increasing pension contributions by 50 per cent, reducing the pension package and introducing performance-related pay.
“Recent figures published by the Government show that teachers in primary schools are working 60 hours a week – we think this is too much and is one of the reasons why so many young teachers are leaving.
“Teachers in Wiltshire never like taking action which interferes with children’s education.
“But it is because we care passionately about the quality of teaching and learning in school that we have to stand up and ensure that all the good practice can continue.
“We hope that you will support us in the strike action on March 26. Teachers and parents standing together to protect the children’s education sends a strong message to Michael Gove.”
Sarah Miller, 39, of Redhouse, has a 16-year-old son at Isambard. She said: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including teachers.
“We’re not allowed to take our children out of school for the day for family occasions, but they’re allowed to strike, even if it affects children’s education.
“It’s a hard one to say where you would draw the line on.
“They’ve got to look out for themselves, just like any profession would.
“If everybody has got to work to that age, why should teachers be any different? They all get so many work holidays throughout the year, which they complain about. It infuriates me that they feel so hard done by.”