RECORD numbers of schools across the region are set to be closed or disrupted later this year as a major teaching union has announced it will be balloting members over industrial strikes.
Members of NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers) will vote on whether to join public sector strikes which are proposed for November 30.
NASUWT members were not among those who walked out in June over changes to teachers’ pensions.
Then, half of all schools across the area covered by The News were fully or partially closed.
If NASUWT members do strike, parents will face even worse disruption than before.
Sion Reynolds, secretary of Portsmouth’s branch of NASUWT, which has 800 members, said: ‘If we vote for strike action there will be very little chance many schools will stay open.
‘NASUWT has bent over backwards to try to reason with this government but they are not taking negotiations seriously. A message must be sent to this government to listen to teachers who want the best for our young people.’
The government proposals are for teachers to work until the age of 68, pay more in pension contributions and get less when they retire.
The National Union of Teachers – the largest in the region – and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers who went out on the June strike have confirmed they will also be supporting the day of action in November.
Howard Payne, head of Medina Primary in Cosham, who is a member of the NUT along with eight out of ten of his teachers, said: ‘We closed for a day in June but I really hope it won’t come to it this year. I am, however, very concerned the negotiations between the government and the unions do not seem to be coming to anything.
‘My major concern about the proposals is raising the age – of course we need experienced teachers we also need enthusiasm and vitality.
‘The other issue is by ruining our pensions talented graduates will not consider teaching as a profession.
‘From what I can gather, although the economic situation in the country has changed for the worse, there is evidence that the pensions are still affordable.’
Richard Carlyle is head of Bridgemary School in Gosport which stayed open in June when 16 out of 75 teachers went on strike.
He said: ‘I don’t support striking but I am sympathetic to teachers who are taking action. I think the November strikes will be a wake-up call to the government which is trying to manipulate teachers’ pay and conditions to fit the economic climate.
‘In June like many schools our year 11s had left and our year 10s were on work experience. But in Autumn schools will be packed so the impact is going to be much bigger.’