Teacher strike expected to close many of Gloucestershire's schools on Thursday
SCHOOLS are facing the threat of closure tomorrow as the majority of teachers in the region take on the Government over pay and work conditions.
Members of two teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT, will strike in protest about Government plans for their pay, pensions and conditions of service.
The unions have said that they are protesting against a two-year pay freeze plus proposals for a later retirement age of 68, an increase in pension contributions and workloads.
The action will force many primary and secondary schools to close or partially close because of their depleted work forces.
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John Pemberthy, national executive NUT member for Gloucestershire, said: "We anticipate that the vast majority of schools in the Cheltenham area and across Gloucestershire will be closed on Thursday and, although we regret any disruption to parents and pupils, we believe that the effects of current policies being ideologically driven by Michael Gove are doing considerable harm to the profession, to schools' ability to recruit and retain teachers and to the education service in general.
"Strike action is never a step that teachers take lightly and we are very aware and concerned about the inconvenience it causes parents."
While some schools will close altogether, others will strive to keep classes open.
Rebecca Scutt, headteacher at Stow-on-the-Wold Primary School, will lose four of the school's five teachers but is confident the school can remain open. She said: "I fully support out teachers in their decision to strike because I think the attacks on teachers' pay and pensions is appalling.
"However, I am very supportive for our families and working parents – of whom I am one too – and I am making every effort to keep all of our classes open."
Daniella West, whose son will remain at home after it was announced some classes at Leckhampton Primary will close, said that the Government needed to focus on giving teachers long-term guarantees.
The 30-year-old said: "As a parent, I don't think strike action is right because teachers are there to look after children.
"But, if they have got no other choice, that is what they have to do."