11 schools close as teachers take action

SCHOOLS closed on Wednesday as dozens of teachers took part in the latest strike action over changes to their working conditions.

Eleven schools across the town were affected with four completely closed and seven others partly closed.

West St Leonards Primary Academy, Blacklands Primary School, St Paul’s Church of England Primary and St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic School were completely shut.

Among those partially closed were both the secondary schools St Leonards and Hastings academies, Robsack Wood Community Primary and Churchwood Community Primary.

Striking union members from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) met at the White Rock Hotel to hear from a number of speakers before heading en masse into the town centre.

The teachers held a question and answer session with NUT regional officer Nick Childs.

And, according the NUT’s Hastings District branch representative Dorothy Amos, the response from members of the public was largely positive.

She said: “During our march we had lots of motorists honking their support and a lot of people signed our petition.

“From that point of view the day was a success.

“However we don’t take strike action lightly.

“It is very much a last resort.”

She added that two previously scheduled strikes had been cancelled when the government promised to better engage with teaching representatives but that teachers felt that had not happened.

The NUT has grown frustrated at what it sees as a refusal on the part of the government to discuss the impact of mooted changes.

The union which it says could see teachers working until 68 and having to work up to 60 hours a week while suffering a 15 per cent pay cut.

It also wants a more consistent curriculum and for local councils to be given the power to set up new schools in areas in need of them.

And according to Miss Amos, the direction the government appears to be heading in could put off potential teachers from joining the profession.

“Around 40 per cent of new teachers leave the job within the first five years,” she said, “that is something which needs to be addressed.

“There is too much pressure being put on teachers.”

NUT members will debate what to do next at its annual conference in Brighton later this year

East Sussex County Council – the local authority in charge of schools – would not be drawn on the issues.

But spokesman Tim Fletcher said: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the issues the teachers are striking about, we believe strongly that strike action, which causes disruption to children’s education, is not the way to resolve a dispute.”