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Bassett Green Primary School's Liz Filer calls for general strike at teachers' rally
A SOUTHAMPTON head teacher has called for an all-out general strike as she addressed a rally supporting the industrial action by teachers yesterday.
Bassett Green Primary School's Liz Filer urged those gathered at the rally in Hoglands Park to strike alongside postal workers when they walk out next month.
She said: “We should be out with the postal workers. We should be out on that day. We should have a general strike on that day of all public sector workers.”
Up to ten head teachers in Southampton are understood to have joined the strike action yesterday staged by the two main unions the NUT and NASUWT. In Southampton 47 of the city’s schools were closed or partially closed by the action.
In Hampshire more than 130 schools were closed. Addressing the 150 supporters, who gathered at the Southampton rally Mrs Filer, a member of the NUT, spoke out against the reforms being implemented by the Government as “totally unacceptable”.
She said the use of unqualified teachers to take classes and leaving it to heads to decide how much teachers get paid were among the reasons for her taking strike action alongside her colleagues, which led to the closure of her own school.
However, her words drew criticism from deputy leader of the Conservative party in Southampton, Cllr Jeremy Moulton, who described Mrs Filer’s call for a general strike as “deeply irresponsible”.
He said: “It is a matter for head teachers to decide whether they go on strike or not but I think it is very disappointing. I believe they should be showing leadership to other staff that the priority should be keeping their school open.”
In response Mrs Filer, who is credited with turning around the fortunes of Bassett Green Primary, which is now rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted, said: “As a leader in education I feel it is my duty to protect the future education of our children.
“We are in this job because we love children and we want children to succeed. One of the only ways we are going to break cycles of poverty is through education and dedicated, committed and qualified teachers. If we don’t have that we are not going to achieve it.”
Leader of Southampton City Council Simon Letts, himself a former teacher, said he “sympathised” with the teachers: “I know it is not a job I would want to do until I am 67. I understand the frustrations of the unions but I think both sides need to sit around the table and talk.
“I know Liz Filer and she is an excellent head teacher and whilst I may not agree with all her views, I know she speaks from the heart when it comes to the education of children.”
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