VIDEO: Hundreds turn out for teachers' strike rally in Sheffield
Around 1,000 people marched through the centre of Sheffield to support a national teachers' strike today.
Members of the National Union of Teachers gathered in Barker’s Pool after walking out over a long-running dispute on school funding, pay and conditions.
Many teachers, teaching assistants and classroom support workers from across Sheffield joined the city centre rally during the one-day NUT strike.
NUT members from Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and North Derbyshire also joined colleagues in denouncing the Government’s policy on education.
Speakers included union officials, headteachers, teachers and parenting groups who slammed budget cuts, an increase in testing, an increase in class sizes, academisation, and teacher’s work loads
Lots of schools managed to stay at least partially open across the city as teachers belonging to other unions didn’t strike.
Around 25 per cent of Sheffield NUT members responded to the ballot with 94 per cent voting in favour of the walk out.
A council spokesman confirmed nine schools had closed and a further 63 had partial closures.
Only three schools The Star contacted said they were open as normal.
One teacher in Sheffield who didn’t wish to be named said she knew several staff members who had gone off with stress due to the increasing work load.
Another teacher recalled the moment a young colleague had a breakdown just six months into the job.
Emma Boynton, 35, and Kathryn Bennett, 36, are both English teachers at Forge Valley in Stannington. They’ve both been teachers for around 10 years.
They both joined the rally at Barker’s Pool today.
“It’s important to turn out and to show we oppose these serious funding cuts going on in schools across the city,” Emma said.
“There’s been an increase in class sizes, the freedom to teach children is being taken away from us and the curriculum is getting narrower and narrower.”
Kathryn said: “There’s a climate of fear that starts at government level, going through headteachers and onto staff which rubs off onto the children.
“From when I started out teaching I’ve seen a huge increase in testing and kids are now geared towards passing tests than actual learning.
“I know headteachers who are having to make such tough decisions that they don’t want to do.
“In general morale is pretty low, but there is a hunger to stand up and fight. It’s not something I’ve seen for many years, people have had enough.”
Rotherham teacher Nancy Crookes, 48, has been in the profession for 22 years.
She said: “It’s pretty bad in schools in general. Staff I know have gone off sick with stress and anxiety due to the increasing workload and lack of support with teaching assistants losing their jobs.
“I’ve gone part-time and I’d say to any teacher who values their sanity to do the same.
“The children do keep me going. They are the reason I get up in the morning to help them.”
Liz Williams teaches visually impaired students at Tapton School in Crosspool for around 30 years.
“The cuts to funding in our schools are really damaging our children, the constant need to test them is damaging them,” she said.
“Teaching assistants are being targeted for cuts and I can’t stress enough their importance in aiding the running of the classroom, especially with visually impaired children.”
The union has written to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan calling for ‘meaningful’ discussions to tackle issues it said were negatively affecting education.
Acting general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The NUT is aware that strike action can be disruptive to parents and carers and for that we wholeheartedly apologise. Equally, teachers do not take strike action lightly. The problems facing education, however, are too great to be ignored and we know many parents share our concerns.”
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the strike was ‘unnecessary’ and ‘harmful’.
The Star contacted the following schools to see if the strike had affected them.
Abbey Lane Primary - Closed
Birley Community College - Year Nine off school, rest open as normal.
Bradway Primary - Closed
Carfield Primary - Ten classes affected, open to everyone else
Charnock Hall Primary - Six teachers on strike, five in infants and one in juniors.
Dore Primary - Three staff members on strike, three classes out of 15.
Ecclesfield Primary - Not affected at all, open as normal.
Fox Hill Primary - Refused to comment.
Green Gate Lane Primary in Stocksbridge - Not affected at all, open as normal
Hallam Primary - Not affected at all, open as normal
Hillsborough Primary - Partial closure.
Intake Primary - Two Year Three, one Year Four, One Year 5 off.
Limpsfield Junior School in Wincobank - One class off all day.
Lowfield Primary - One class off all day, one class off in the afternoon.
Manor Lodge Primary - Two classes off, rest open as normal.
Meadowhead School - Year Seven in school, Year Eight and Year Nine off Year Ten on work experience week.
Meersbrook Bank Primary - Four classes affected - Reception, Year One, Three and Four all off school.
Mundella Primary- Pupils in Reception, two classes in Year Two and one in Year Four stayed at home.
Nether Edge Primary - Six teachers on strike. A class in Year One, Three, Four and Six were affected alongside two classes in Year Two.
Norton Free Primary - Refused to comment.
Oughtibridge Primary - Not affected at all, open as normal.