If teachers do leave, then our education system suffers

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We should be under no illusion. The knock-on effect if teachers in the Portsmouth area go on strike on October 17 will be huge.

In all likelihood some of our schools will have to close, leaving parents with the headache of trying to organise childcare or take time off work.

Then there are the missed lessons that could potentially mean some children falling behind with their education if the strike drags on.

Not surprisingly, some of the parents we’ve talked to are less than impressed at the prospect of hassle and extra expense.

Of course, the nature of a strike means that disruption is caused. The temporary withdrawal of labour is designed to make a point.

In the case of the NUT and NASUWT teaching unions, they are fighting changes being introduced by controversial education secretary Michael Gove.

And they believe the most effective way of making their voice heard is by leaving the classroom for a day.

It’s an extreme tactic and teachers certainly face losing the sympathy of some parents by choosing to take this form of action over pay, pensions and conditions.

But they clearly feel enough is enough. Listen to Mike Smith, headteacher of the City of Portsmouth Boys’ School in Hilsea and chair of Portsmouth Secondary Heads, when he talks of the ‘desperate situation’ in which teachers find themselves.

He says: ‘I’ve been teaching for 32 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the teaching profession so under attack from the government and the department (for Education).

‘It’s relentless. Pretty much everything they’ve negotiated in the last 10 years they’re going back on.’

Mr Smith talks of the very real risk that teachers will end up quitting the profession.

As Mr Gove remains intent on pushing through measures including a new national curriculum and linking teachers’ pay to perfomance, he would do well to remember that without good teachers we have no education system.