Hampshire schools set to close as teachers prepare to walk out in fresh dispute with government

SCHOOLS across the Portsmouth area are set to be affected by a fresh wave of strikes by teachers taking action over budget cuts and contracts.

Saturday, 2nd July 2016, 6:10 am
Teachers strike and march through Portsmouth city centre

A number of schools will be forced to close on Tuesday as staff plan to walk out and take to the picket line in an act of defiance against the government.

Teachers are unhappy school budgets are being cut and say plans to make individual schools draw up new terms and conditions for their staff will turn headteachers into ‘business managers’.

The National Union of Teachers, which represents around 1,000 teachers in Portsmouth, will stage a rally in Portsmouth’s Commercial Road on the day so members can voice concerns.

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Hampshire County Council has written to all headteachers at its schools, providing information for staff on the implications of participating in industrial action.

NUT Portsmouth branch secretary Amanda Martin said teachers were acting in the best interests of pupil education.

She said: ‘We have to think about the long-term future. We have tried to negotiate with the government, the acting general secretary wrote to the Department for Education and Nicky Morgan.

‘We have given them another chance to open up proper negotiations. Yet they haven’t replied.

‘We are teachers and we care about the children we teach.

‘If we don’t have a high turnout, there will be reasons behind it.

‘We don’t want to let kids down, but we need to take a stand against the government, because in the long term they are the ones letting the children down.’

Headteachers have been asked to ascertain whether any staff will be striking so they may determine the likely impact on their school and whether the impact is likely to mean that the school will need to close or partially shut.

Hampshire education boss Councillor Peter Edgar said: ‘I hope the decision of the union to ask its members to take part in a day of industrial action does not lead to widespread disruption to pupils’ education.

‘This dispute is not with the county council, but with central government over changes to teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions, as well as reforms to the education sector. Any decisions to close schools will be for individual headteachers and their governing bodies to make.’