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Parents in limbo over school strike plans
11:30am Sunday 29th September 2013 in News
SCORES of south Essex parents are still waiting to find out whether they will have to arrange childcare for their children during a one day teachers’ strike.
Teachers at primary and secondary schools are set to walk out on Tuesday, in a row over pay, pensions and workload.
Some major schools, including the Billericay School, will shut for the whole day with parents being forced to make alternative arrangements.
Other secondaries, such as Chase High School, in Westcliff, and King John School, Thundersley, will remain open only for Years 11, 12 and 13 to minimise disruption to youngsters preparing for GCSE and A-Level exams.
However, other headteachers do not yet know how many staff will walk out and whether that will lead them to shut their schools.
Julie Peek’s ten-year-old son, Joe, attends West Leigh Junior School, which refused to tell the Echo whether the school would close.
Julie, of Leigh Cliff Road, Leigh, said: “I didn’t know there could be a teachers’ strike on Tuesday, I’ve not had a letter or a text.
“If the school closes and I had been working – as it happens, I’m not – but if I was, it would’ve been a nightmare.
“If you’re a parent working in the city you can’t have your child home alone all day.
Friends of mine who work in the city would definitely find it tricky to find last-minute childcare.”
Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex branch of the NUT, said members were under no obligation to inform the schools.
He said: “Unions write to academies to tell them the number of staff members who have been asked to take industrial action, but no information is given to other schools.
“There is no legal requirement for teachers to say whether they are going on strike. Management at some schools try to undermine strike action, which is bad practice.”
The NUT and NASUWT, the two major teaching unions, voted to strike over an ongoing battle against pension reductions.
They are also protesting against reforms which will see pay linked to performance and give headteachers greater power over salaries.
James Courtenay, councillor responsible for children and learning in Southend, said: “All schools are making their decision based on their ability to open safely and keep classes operating with minimal disruption.
“Our expectation, as always, is that schools should do whatever they can to remain open.”
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