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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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More than 6,500 Cumbrian pupils affected by teachers' strike

More than 6,500 Cumbrian pupils missed school as teachers staged a strike.

Members of the National Union Teachers, which has 3,000 members in the county, took action nationally yesterday. As a result, many schools closed.

Full figures on the impact of the strike on schools and pupils have not been collated.

But, Cumbria County Council has released information supplied to the authority before the strike, indicating how many pupils were affected.

According to those figures, 6,557 pupils across the county were not in school. However, the true number is likely to be higher as many schools did not provide information of closures to the county council.

No demonstrations or rallies were organised in Cumbria for the strike but some union members travelled to other parts of the north to take part in protest events.

Alan Rutter, chairman of the Cumbrian branch of the NUT, attended one in Liverpool.

He said: “We were getting people by the side of the road cheering us on as we went past.

“The reaction I have heard is pretty positive.”

The strike comes after the Government published results of its 2013 Teachers’ Workload Diary Survey, which covered 1,000 teachers and found on average teachers report working more than 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 time on planning, preparation and assessment.

Mr Rutter added: “I know a few parents are angry at having to make last minute arrangements but the possibility of striking has been on the go for several weeks.

“If schools affected are announcing things at the last minute that’s their fault.”

One Penrith parent who contacted the News & Star was unhappy that her daughter, who is studying for GCSEs, had to go her school, which was closed to lower years.

“She is in school but half of the teachers are on strike so, in her words, ‘what’s the point’?”

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