MORE than 60 schools across the county will be closed or severely disrupted tomorrow as teachers walk out of classrooms amid a bitter pay row.
By last night a total of 62 schools across Southampton and Hampshire had announced that they will be affected by the strike – 25 of them shutting completely.
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It comes as the National Union of Teachers (NUT) ramps up the ongoing dispute with Secretary for State for Education Michael Gove.
As reported by the Daily Echo yesterday, the day of action will see a rally in Southampton’s Guildhall Square from 11.30am where there will be a number of speakers.
Maytree Nursery and Infant and Thornhill Primary joined other city schools that are closing completely.
They are Ludlow Junior, St Monica Junior, Bassett Green Primary, Bevois Town Primary, Freemantle Community Academy, Moorlands Primary, Great Oaks and Vermont.
But head teachers in 11 other city schools say that they will be staying open during the one day of industrial action.
Forty-two others are yet to make a decision whether to close on the day of the strike.
Outside Southampton, 33 county schools are likely to be affected.
They include Romsey Primary School, Wildground Junior School in Dibden Purlieu, Bursledon Infant School and Ranvilles Junior School in Fareham, which are all closing completely.
On the eve of the action the NUT says that it has been left with little choice after Mr Gove refused to give way in the longrunning dispute on pay and pensions.
Southampton’s education chief Councillor Dan Jeffery said: “Any disruption to the daily running of our public services is regrettable, and for parents and children who will be affected it will be difficult.
“It appears the Secretary of State has pursued his policies on teachers’ pay without having proper dialogue with the teachers’ unions, and hearing their grievances.
“The potential damage done to education by breaking the national pay scale system will have negative consequences in the long term.”
Education county boss Councillor Peter Edgar said: “I hope the decision of the union to ask their members to take part in an industrial day of action this March does not lead to widespread disruption to pupils’ education.
“This dispute is not with the county council but with the Government over changes to teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions.
“Any decisions to close schools will be for individual head teachers and their governing bodies to make.
“They will have to decide whether they have sufficient staff to enable them to open the school safely and maintain a full or revised curriculum and it may not be possible for schools to gauge the impact of the strike until the actual day.
“Staff who do strike, however, will not be paid for that day in accordance with nationally set legislation. As ever, the county council’s primary concern is for the education and welfare of children.”