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Thousands to miss school as teachers prepare to strike on Thursday
THE education of tens of thousands children across the region will be thrown into disarray tomorrow as teachers go on strike.
It is estimated that up to 40,000 youngsters will not go to school as teacher strikes take their toll.
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Already almost 100 head teachers have taken the decision not to open tomorrow due to the number of teachers who have said they will be walking out.
The joint action by the two main teaching unions the national Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers is being taken in protest at changes to pensions and other changes to their work and conditions.
Last night more than 90 schools across Hampshire and Southampton had confirmed they would be closed or partially closed – meaning up to 40,000 pupils would not be at school tomorrow.
Striking teachers are being urged to attend a rally that has been arranged in Southampton as a public show of strength against the changes that are being pushed through by the Government.
But it will mean tens of thousands of children will not be taught tomorrow as schools close their classrooms for the day.
As the number of schools announcing their intention to close continues to rise, some parents are still unsure whether their children’s classes will be open as the full extent of the strike will not be known until on the day.
While there is no formal agreement for staff to let their head teachers know whether they plan on walking out, most teachers do informally notify their heads if they are striking.
However, some heads are warning that although they believe there will be enough teachers in to safely open their schools the picture could change on the day if more teachers walk out than anticipated.
That means many parents will have to ensure they are prepared for the possibility their children’s school will be closed.
Cabinet member for children’s services in Southampton, Sarah Bogle, said: “I would certainly hope that all schools would be able to inform parents in advance of the actual strike, if there is a dialogue between staff and teachers, as parents clearly need to be able to plan.
“A strike is always the last resort and it is disappointing that it has reached this stage but the unions are in dispute with the Government about their reforms so we just have to do as much as we can to support parents.
“We will try and mitigate the disruption as much as possible.”
Some colleges in the region have also announced they will be affected by tomorrow’s action.
Further education colleges and sixth forms have been hit by the strike with the numbers of lecturers intending to take industrial action leaving principals with no choice but to suspend timetables.
A previous protest by teachers in Southampton
Itchen College along with Barton Peveril have confirmed they will not be running classes.
A spokesman for Barton Peveril College said although no classes will be running, students will be able to use the facilities, including the library, for independent study.
Brockenhurst, Eastleigh and City College Southampton have all confirmed their intention to stay open.
Totton College will also be open as usual with only a limited number of classes affected.
Students are advised to attend college as usual unless they are contacted directly by Totton College to inform them to the contrary.
Principal Mike Gaston said: “Totton College provides inspirational and innovative learning experiences for everyone and we aim to minimise the disruption to teaching by ensuring that the college is open as usual for our students.”
Meanwhile politicians are continuing to urge union bosses and Government ministers to sit down around the table in a bid to avoid strike action completely.
Eastleigh Liberal Democrat MP Mike Thornton said: “This situation needs both sides to take stock and be prepared to enter into dialogue.
The right to strike is an important part of our democracy, but that must be balanced with consideration of our children’s education and the inconvenience a strike will cause.
“As a parent and a college governor I know first-hand what an incredible job local teachers do and at a national level I’d urge both sides to sit down and sort it out for the sake of the education of our children.”
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