Teachers to strike across East Anglia today
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Teachers across the region are staging a 24-hour strike today in a long-running dispute with the government over the 'underfunding' of schools.
Dozens of Norfolk and north Suffolk schools are closing their doors altogether and others are only running some classes after members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted by more than 9-1 in favour of industrial action.
Teachers and their supporters will stage rallies and marches to protest what they see as a sustained attack on the quality of education after almost six years of the Conservatives' austerity-driven cuts.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said of the county's 432 schools, more than 30 were expected to be closed and almost 40 partially closed.
But the spokesman said the final figure would not become clear until this morning as schools had been encouraged to notify parents directly about planned closures.
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The union said its demands were to increase funding to schools and education, guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools, and to resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.
The union has written to education secretary Nicky Morgan calling for 'meaningful' discussions to tackle issues it said were negatively affecting education.
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Acting general secretary Kevin Courtney said: 'The NUT is aware that strike action can be disruptive to parents and carers and for that we wholeheartedly apologise.
'Equally, teachers do not take strike action lightly. The problems facing education, however, are too great to be ignored and we know many parents share our concerns.
'The strike is about the underfunding of our schools and the negative impact it is having on children's education and teachers' terms and conditions.
'Schools are facing the worst cuts in funding since the 1970s. The decisions which headteachers have to make are damaging to our children and young people's education.
'Class sizes going up, school trips reduced, materials and resources reduced, and subjects –- particularly in the arts – are being removed from the curriculum.
'Teaching posts are being cut or not filled when staff leave. All of this just to balance the books.
'No parent wants this for their children. No teacher wants this for their school or pupils. With political parties in turmoil since the EU referendum, it is imperative that education is put to the forefront of every election campaign. The problems schools face need addressing immediately. We must not let the education of the next generation be sidelined.'
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett offered her party's support for the strike, saying: 'Teachers are striking in defence of the education their pupils, and future pupils, receive.
'Schools that I visit up and down the country tell me they are struggling to maintain the quality of education in the face of slashed funding. Some are being forced into making teachers and support staff redundant, which means a poorer education for pupils.'
Do you agree with the strike? Email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk and include full contact details.
Schools affected by the strike
Acle Academy High
Barnham Broom Primary School
The Brooklands School, Great Yarmouth
The Bishop's Primary School, Thetford
Browick Road, Wymondham
Catton Grove Primary School, Norwich
Colman Junior School, Norwich
Fakenham High and College
Firside Junior School, Hellesdon
Framlingham Earl High
Harford Manor School, Norwich
Hillside Avenue Primary and Nursery School, Norwich
Kenninghall Primary School
Lakenham Primary School
Martham Primary and Nursery School
Moorlands Primary Academy, Great Yarmouth
Notre Dame, Norwich
Recreation Road, Norwich
St Francis Assisi, Norwich
St Mary's, Beetley
Wensum Junior School, Norwich
West Winch Primary School
Schools partially affected by the strike (only some classes are cancelled)
Alderman Swindell School, Great Yarmouth
Attleborough Junior School
Cliff Park Ormiston Academy, Gorleston-on-Sea
Garrick Green, Old Catton
Dussindale, Thorpe St Andrew
Fakenham High and College
The Hewett Academy,
Hobart High School, Loddon (just Year 10 and Year 6 in)
Mulbarton Junior School, Mulbarton
Old Catton School
Sewell Park High, Norwich
Sprowston High (just Year 12 in)
White Woman Lane Junior School, Norwich
Wymondham High (Year 11 and Year 12 in only)