Monday, 30 November 2015

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Cumbria's teachers set to strike over pay and pensions

Industrial action is set to keep children out of school next week.

Alan Rutter photo
Alan Rutter

The National Union of Teachers (NUT), which has 3,000 members in Cumbria, has called a strike for Wednesday.

Some schools have already announced partial closures. However, the full picture on disruption will be unclear until the day.

Alan Rutter, secretary of the NUT’s Cumbrian division, said: “We have been trying to engage the Government in talks about changes to pension, changes to pay and changes to our working conditions.”

Schools around Cumbria told the News & Star about how they would be affected by the strike.

A spokeswoman for Cockermouth School said: “Members of the NUT have voted to take discontinuous strike action on Wednesday 26 March.

“No other professional associations for both teaching and support staff are involved. Cockermouth School will remain open for all year groups on this day.”

Vanessa Ray, principal of West Lakes Academy, said her school would be closed for years seven, eight and nine.

“The decision to keep the academy partly open was taken because pupils are preparing for their external examinations and we wanted to keep disruption to their preparations to a minimum,” she added.

“It is not possible to open to pupils in years seven to nine because we do not have enough senior staff to ‘cover’ for staff taking action who would have been teaching those classes.”

Earlier this month the Government published results of its long-awaited 2013 Teachers’ Workload Diary Survey. The survey of 1,000 teachers found that, on average, teachers report working over 50 hours per week – 12 hours more than what might be regarded as a normal working week – with headteachers clocking up more than 60 hours.

Heads spend around half of this time on school and staffing management while classroom teachers spend at least three-quarters of the extra on planning, preparation and assessment (PPA). This and teaching each take up around a third of a teacher’s time, the study says.

Figures released by the Trades Union Congress last month in its Work Your Proper Hours Day also shows that teachers and other educational professionals are most likely to work unpaid overtime when compared to those in other areas.

Mr Rutter said parents should get behind the strikers. He said: “In Michael Gove you have got someone in charge of education stuck in a 1950s public school time warp and he’s not allowing schools to develop.”

He also wanted to challenge perceptions of teachers going on strike on a regular basis, adding: “I have been in teaching for 40 years and have more days off for royal events than striking.”

He added that the union could still call things off following negotiations.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “We have contacted schools to inform them that the decision to close, or partially close, should be taken based on the headteacher’s judgement as to whether the school can operate safely and effectively.”

The following schools will be closed on Wednesday:

  • All Saints', Cockermouth: partial closure in years 1, 3, 4 and 6. The rest of the school will be open as usual.
  • Barrow Island primary, Barrow
  • Caldew School, Dalston: closed for years 7, 8, 9 and 10 pupils. Year 11, 12 and 13 pupils should be in school as normal
  • Chapel Street Infants & Nursery School, Dalton
  • Crosscrake CofE Primary, Kendal
  • Dowdales School, Dalton: partial closure: open only for Year 11 pupils for lessons and revision sessions
  • Furness Academy, Barrow
  • Gosforth CofE School, Seascale
  • Hindpool nursery, Barrow
  • Holme Community School, Carnforth
  • Inglewood juniors, Carlisle
  • James Rennie, Carlisle: partial closure; eight classes remaining open
  • Jericho, Whitehaven
  • Kendal nursery, Kendal
  • Montreal CofE primary, Cleator Moor
  • Newbarns primary, Barrow
  • North Walney primary, Barrow
  • Sandgate School, Kendal
  • Seaton CofE Junior School, Seaton, nr Workington
  • South Walney infant and nursery, Barrow
  • St Begh's Catholic junior, Whitehaven
  • St Benedict's Catholic High School, Whitehaven
  • St Bernard's Catholic High School, Barrow: closed for years 7 and 8 only. Open for years 9, 10 and 11.
  • St Patrick's Catholic Primary, Cleator Moor
  • Ulverston Victoria High School: partial closure: open only for Year 11 and sixth form pupils
  • Valley primary and nursery, Whitehaven
  • Walney School: partial closure: open for Year 10 and 11 pupils; Year 9 pupils and their parents can attend the school’s Innovation Centre to discuss GCSE choices



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