122 schools to be shut by strikes

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THOUSANDS of pupils will stay at home tomorrow as Sheffield schools are hit by the biggest walkout by teaching staff for a generation.

A total of 122 schools will be shut for the day, with just 11 state sector primaries staying open as normal.

A further 33 schools - including some large secondaries like Chaucer, Firth Park, Meadowhead and Silverdale - will be partially open for limited numbers of pupils only.

Members of all four major teaching unions - the NUT, the NASUWT and the usually moderate ATL and NAHT - have all voted to strike over proposed changes to their pension schemes.

They will be joined by support staff who are members of Unison and the GMB, forcing some schools to shut due to health and safety issues.

As a result many parents will be forced to work from home, make alternative childcare arrangements or take their children to the office.

Ben Morris, joint divisional secretary of Sheffield NUT, said he hoped that teachers’ feelings of anger and frustration over poorer pensions would get across.

“Compared to the action that was taken in June, this time the strike will be very solid indeed,” he said.

“Many primary headteachers are members of the NAHT and so many more four to 11-year-olds are being affected this time. The NAHT and the ATL have never taken part in national strikes before.”

Mr Morris said school safety was also a key issue.

“Headteachers have had to carry out risk assessments and if key staff like caretakers are not in school, they will have decided to shut for the day.

“We know our 2,900 members feel strongly about this huge attack on their pensions, which is not just about pay but a whole way of life.

“It is a fundamental part of their working conditions and to defend such conditions is what unions are set up to do,” he added.

Schools across South Yorkshire will also be badly hit by the action.

In Rotherham just six primaries are planning to open, with two others opening for a limited number of classes.

Barnsley schools will also be badly affected, with at least 48 primaries closed along with six of the town’s large secondary campuses.

In Derbyshire primary schools are being asked to keep open as many classes as possible but most secondaries will be shut.

Sheffield City Council has been urging as many schools as possible to open wherever possible.

A spokesman said: “We want to continue to deliver education to children and young people where possible.

“The council has requested that schools try to minimise any disruption as best as they can. Schools will need to review their plans for business continuity and are asked not to send home any pupils unless there are appropriate alternatives.”

Ministers have called for any action to be suspended while negotiations at a national level continue.

But the teaching unions say anger is growing over proposals to increase monthly pension contributions by 50 per cent, scrap of final salary schemes and to force employees to retire at 65 rather than 60.

Sheffield schools staying open tomorrow:

Clifford CE Infant

Deepcar St Johns CE Junior

Ecclesall Infant

Emmanuel Junior

Grace Owen Nursery School

Lowfield Primary

Lydgate Junior

Nether Green Infant

St Thomas More Catholic Primary

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary

Wharncliffe Side Primary