UTTOXETER’S schools could be set for disruption – or even closure – after teachers confirmed their participation in forthcoming strike action.
Head teachers at Oldfields Hall Middle School, Windsor Park Middle School and Ryecroft Middle School have confirmed several teachers will take part in industrial action on October 1.
However, Thomas Alleyne’s High School head teacher Suzanne O’Farrell told the Post and Times she is still unsure whether any of her staff will be involved.
She said: “I’ve had no notification from my staff about whether they’ll strike but they have no obligation to make a decision yet.
“Our students’ safety is our main concern and we’ll only close if it’s not safe to remain open.
“I’ve been through a similar situation before and no decision can be made about how the school will operate until closer to the date of the strike.
“As soon as we know what’s going to happen, we’ll be sending letters out to all our pupils’ parents and I’m hopeful we won’t have to close for the day.”
All four school bosses said their schools may be forced to run at reduced capacity or, if staff absences compromised pupils’ safety, close for the day.
It is unclear whether teachers from primary schools in and around town will be involved.
Oldfields head teacher Nick Brown said: “I strongly oppose any disruption to our routine but have to respect my teachers’ rights to take part.
“I’ve asked them all to let me know their decision by Monday so I can make a decision after consulting our governors.
“The last thing I want to see is the school closing for the day and I can assure parents that will be very much a last resort we turn to if we feel their children’s safety as at risk.”
Windsor head teacher Carl Gliddon said: “Some teachers have confirmed they intend to take part but many have not yet decided.
“Depending on how many take part, we may be able to run the school as normal or at reduced capacity.
“I really don’t want to see the school close but that will be considered as a last resort in the interests of our pupils’ safety.”
Ryecroft head teacher Steve Bardon said: “Staff have met with their union reps in school and are now making their own decisions regarding the October 1.
“Some staff have seen me and given their decision but I need to know more before I can decide on whether the school will be open.”
The action, which in protest at a raft of proposal from government education chief Michael Gove, is being spearheaded by the NUT and NASUWT teachers’ unions.
Speaking in July, NUT Midlands secretary Kit Armstrong said the strike was in protest of new policies affecting pay, pensions and working hours.
She said: “It’s not as simple as it just being a case of not being offered enough money.
“The Secretary of State is attacking teachers’ national pay contract, which is regulated by statute.
“Mr Gove is proposing to de-regulate that and move decisions over teacher pay down to individual school level.
“We’re calling on Mr Gove to announce and publish the value of his pension scheme, which he still hasn’t done.
“Teacher morale is also a big issue as it is currently at rock bottom thanks to his attacks through the media.”