Schools in Norfolk to close due to strike

Great Yarmouth Borough local elections/ mayoral election and AV vote at Great Yarmouth Town Hall.Mic

Great Yarmouth Borough local elections/ mayoral election and AV vote at Great Yarmouth Town Hall.Mick Castle (Labour)Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

At least 40 schools will be closed or partially closed next week as two major teaching unions have organised a one-day strike following a dispute with the government.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), which together represent nine out of 10 teachers, will be striking on Tuesday. The strike follows a dispute with the government over job cuts, changes to pensions and to teachers' pay and excessive workload and bureacracy and mean that at least 40 schools in the county – including infant schools, junior schools and high schools – will be closed or partially closed.

Hethersett High School is among those schools which will be closed and in a statment issued to parents consultant headteacher John Catton said: 'We now know that this action is going ahead and it will impact on our school. It is likely that approximately 30 of our teachers will not be reporting for work on the day and so, with great reluctance, in consultation with the chair of governors I have reached the view that we cannot open for all students on Tuesday.

'On Tuesday, October 1 the school will be closed for all students other than for those in the current Year 11. We intend to abandon the normal school timetable for the day and arrange a special programme of activities in support of students' study at GCSE.'

Caroline Brooker, headteacher of North Walsham High School, said the school 'will not be able to open as normal' but 'instead will have to open on a limited provision basis'.

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Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for schools, said: 'We see it as a national dispute, not primarily a Norfolk issue, but obviously we have got concerns about how it might impact on pupils' schooling and the inconvenience to parents, but having said that, public sector workers have been under the cosh somewhat with the coalition government. We've had the fire dispute earlier in the week and in a way it's part of the territory at the moment.'

According to the unions, the jointly co-ordinated action has been designed to enable teachers to focus on the job of teaching and to prevent a crisis in the teaching profession which could have devastating concequences for schools.

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They say they 'deeply regret' the disruption caused by striking but insist they had no alternative.

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the Government's measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more. In a recent poll, 61pc of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70pc either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all.'

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