Thousands of teachers set to strike in Gloucester closing dozens of schools
THOUSANDS of teachers look set to strike in Gloucestershire on October 17, closing dozens of schools amid union disputes with Education Secretary Michael Gove.
On Tuesday, schools in the north of England and in the West Midlands will close because of a strike by teaching staff, and the rolling action will come to Gloucestershire in three weeks' time.
The strike comes as the two largest teacher unions, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), undertake their Protect Teachers and Defend Education campaign.
On their websites, the unions state that teachers would be attending a series of regional rallies on strike days to demonstrate their anger, frustration and concern after the "continued refusal of the Secretary of State to genuinely engage with the NUT and the NASUWT to seek to resolve trade disputes with him".
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There are around 6,000 teachers on the payroll in Gloucestershire, of which 3,000 are members of the NUT, with slightly fewer being members of the NASUWT.
The NUT estimate that one in nine teachers are a member of either union, meaning 5,400 teachers could strike in the county on October 17.
It is too early to say which schools will be closing in the county but some will shut their doors on the day.
Child minder Lorraine Wells, from Gloucester, said: "I remember when my children were at school and they would throw an inset day at you without warning, it was a nightmare."
Gareth Buffin, from Coney Hill, said: "I have got three kids and the cost of childcare is definitely a worry.
"I can't just not go to work and stay at home to look after them. Surely teachers have enough time off throughout the year."
But, the action is necessary according to Gloucestershire NUT spokesman John Pemberthy. He said: "This is such a historic strike, large numbers of headteachers will close their schools. Our dispute is solely with Mr Gove and we know that many parents share our concerns about the Government's privatisation agenda, failure to deal with shortage of places, and failure to invest in weaker schools due to the large amount of cash he is throwing at academies and free schools.
"If he doesn't listen to us now, there may well be more action in the future."
The news comes just a week after Mr Gove's visit to Gloucester Academy was disrupted by NUT protesters.
Despite teachers in Gloucestershire not taking part this Tuesday, those in support will wear stickers to make their feelings clear.
Schools are not permitted to draft in replacements during strike action, which is why many may have to close their doors.
A spokesman for St Peter's High School, in Stroud Road, said: "We don't know if the school will be closed yet but union meetings are being held soon."
Gloucestershire County Council will list all schools that close on their website, at gloucestershire.gov.uk/closedschools.