THOUSANDS of South Yorkshire pupils have been told to stay at home tomorrow as schools are hit by the biggest strike to affect the region in many years.
Scores of secondaries and primaries will be closed altogether while many more are telling specific year groups to study at home as teaching unions the NUT and ATL take action over a national pensions dispute.
But many parents face potential child care problems with some schools forced into a decision whether to stay open as late as tomorrow morning because they cannot be certain how many staff will take action on the day.
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Sheffield’s Meadowhead Secondary is one which has sent out letters warning parents that a closure decision may have to be taken ‘at the last minute’. Families are being advised to ensure their child has a safe place to go in case the school shuts at short notice.
The situation is unclear because unions are not required to tell schools which staff members are taking action - and some teachers may decide to work anyway.
Many Sheffield secondaries are sending entire year groups home for the day, while at primaries like Ballifield, Dore and Hinde House the majority of classes have been told to stay away.
Schools sending some year groups home include Chaucer, Ecclesfield, Fir Vale, Springs Academy, Tapton and Wisewood.
Sheffield NUT joint branch secretary Toby Mallinson said teachers in other unions would not cover for the strikers, so causing widespread disruption.
“Schools here are being urged by the council to stay open wherever possible but I can see a situation tomorrow morning where heads realise they simply do not have enough staff available and so are forced to close - which will be very disruptive for parents,” he said.
“In Barnsley many schools have taken an early decision on closing which makes planning easier for all concerned. That’s something we would support.”
Linda Wait, headteacher at Myers Grove School, said some pupils there would be coming in late while others would be leaving early.
“Our staff have been really supportive and have kept us fully informed as to their intentions, which has allowed us to plan ahead. It is a tribute to their professionalism,” she said.
Tapton head David Bowes said two of his year groups were staying at home with parents kept informed by a high level of co-operation between management and staff.
At Beck Primary in Shiregreen, head Peter Hardwick said the decision to close his school for the day was regrettable.
“We don’t take these decisions lightly.”
A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “The council is working with schools and services in supporting them to be open for business tomorrow and wishes to continue to deliver education to children and young people where possible.
“The council has expressed the view that we expect schools to remain open to pupils and we are monitoring the situation closely.”