Teachers' strike: About 60 Shropshire schools disrupted
Around 60 Shropshire schools were affected by industrial action on Wednesday, as teachers become the latest profession to walk out on strike.
Members of the National Education Union were striking across England, with 59 schools across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin set to be affected.
John Boken, branch and district secretary for the NEU in Shropshire, said that teachers had been left with no option but to walk out, as they seek to protect the profession.
He added that they were disappointed that there had been no resolution to the dispute following talks between NEU joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.
The union is demanding a "fully funded, above-inflation pay rise for teachers".
Wednesday's strike also comes as university union staff are also set to walk out on what will be the biggest day of industrial action in the country for more than a decade.
Mr Boken said: "We are disappointed more than anything. It is a shame the Government could not put forward a reasonable offer to try and de-escalate the situation.
"I believe Kevin and Mary went to speak to the Education Secretary on Monday and that did not yield anything to try and stop the strike action, which I know many of our members will find disappointing."
Mr Boken said he believed the public understood the need for the action – which he said is to protect the future of the profession.
He said: "We have disruption all the time and if anything what we are trying to do is fight so there is less disruption in the future.
"We need better pay to encourage more teachers into the profession. Without more teachers there will be further disruption.
"We won't be able to get teachers to stand at the front of a classroom and give them the education they deserve if we don't see action.
"We hope this will head off the worst case scenario in the future where we don't have enough teachers to do the job."
NEU joint general secretary Mr Courtney said parents have been largely supportive of the strikes – with some expected to join demonstrations on Wednesday – as they can see "schools have been run down" and have teacher shortages.
He said: "It's a strike against disruption in education. We want the strike to be effective because we want to concentrate the Government's mind on solving the issue."
Some 300,000 teachers and support staff were asked to vote in the NEU ballot - and more than 127,000 teacher members in England and Wales backed strike action.
In addition, new sign-ups to the NEU have nearly doubled in a week, from 22,000 on Tuesday last week to 40,000.
Six schools in the Shropshire Council area have been confirmed as being closed for the day – Kinlet, Bryn Offa, and St Lawrence CE Primary in Church Stretton, Bicton, Newtown, and Bishop Hooper at Ashford Carbonell.
A number of primaries in the area were partially closed, including Beckbury CE Primary School. Bicton CE Primary School and Nursery, Bishop’s Castle Primary School, Bomere Heath CE Primary School, Buildwas Academy, Buntingsdale Primary School, Condover CE Primary School, Corvedale, Highley Community Primary School, Longlands Primary, Morville CE Primary School, St Mary’s Bluecoat CE Primary School, and Worfield Endowed CE Primary School.
Secondaries partially closed include Belvidere Secondary, Bridgnorth Endowed School, Corbett, Mary Webb School and Science College, Meole Brace School, Shrewsbury Academy, Sir John Talbot’s School, The Grove School, Thomas Adams School, Oldbury Wells and William Brookes School.
Telford & Wrekin Council has said it expects 29 schools in the borough to be either closed or partially closed due to the action.
The Bridge School, Newport Infant School, Charlton School, Donnington Wood CE Junior School, Haberdashers Abraham Darby, Lawley Primary School, Haughton Special School, Hollinswood Primary, Dothill Primary, Millbrook Primary School, Priorslee Academy, Millbrook Primary, Redhill Primary, Southall, and Woodlands Primary School have confirmed they would be partially shut, while Lightmoor Primary and Telford Park School (Lakeside Academy) were closed to all pupils.
Shrewsbury Colleges Group said it would be affected – estimating that 10 per cent of its staff are NEU members – but has said all pupils should attend unless told otherwise.
A statement from the college said: "Unfortunately, there will be a small number of students who will be affected by strike action.
"These students will be informed directly by the appropriate Curriculum Director of the alternative arrangements for their lesson(s).
"These students will be contacted by Monday 30 January with the details of alternative arrangements.
"Approximately 10 per cent of the college’s staff are members of the union and therefore we believe that the impact on student learning will be minimal."