Disruption for schools across Dacorum as teachers go out on strike

Tring Academy teachers on strike in autumn 2013.
Tring Academy teachers on strike in autumn 2013.

Schools are being forced to close or partially shut today as teachers take part in the first nationwide strike by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) since 2011.

The action is part of a national dispute over working conditions including excessive hours, performance-related pay and retirement age.

Gaddesden Row School, which is between Hemel Hempstead and the village of Jockey End, has closed its gates completely while there will be no classed for pupils in Years 9 and 10 at the Hemel Hempstead School

Elsewhere in the town, the nursery class of Gade Valley School is shut and St Cuthbert Mayne Catholic School partially closed.

Years 7, 8 and 9 of Berkhamsted’s Ashlyns School are closed. Years 1 and 2 of Potten End School is shut this morning but open again in the afternoon, while its Year 3 class will be closed all day.

Four classes in Berkhamsted’s Thomas Coram C of E School will be closed, and there will be no after-school clubs there today.

Meanwhile, Years 2, 4, 5 and the reception class are closed at the Divine Saviour Roman Catholic Primary School in Abbots Langley.

Herts County Council’s cabinet member for education Chris Hayward said: “While we recognise that there are strongly held feelings on both sides of this national dispute, strike action in a key public service like this can only be to the detriment of Hertfordshire’s children and their parents.

“We hope that there is a speedy resolution to this dispute in the interests of all concerned.”

The decision to stay open or to close is for individual head teachers and governors to make.

The county council has urged as many schools as possible to remain open as long as it is safe to do so.

But the authority does not have any power to compel them to stay open, whether they are community schools, free schools or academies.

General secretary of the NUT Christine Blower said: “Teachers deeply regret the disruption caused by this strike action to parents and teachers.

“The government’s refusal, however, to engage to resolve the dispute means that we have no alternative other than to demonstrate the seriousness of our concerns.

“Teachers’ levels of workload are intolerable – the government’s own survey, published last month, shows that primary school teachers work nearly 60 hours a week and secondary school teachers work nearly 56 hours a week.

“Two in five teachers are leaving the profession in the first five years of teaching as are many others. This is bad for children and bad for education.

“Destroying the national pay framework means that in every school headteachers and governors have to worry about developing a pay system instead of focussing on teaching and learning.

“The government’s performance-related pay is unnecessary and will build unfairness and additional bureaucracy. Further, international evidence shows that performance-related pay does not work for schools.

“Teachers do not believe that they can work to the age of 68 or even later for a full pension – and they don’t believe it is educationally desirable either.

“The NUT recognises that other workers are having their pensions squeezed. We believe that this is wrong, too – everyone should be entitled to a decent standard of living in retirement.

“Government education secretary Michael Gove can resolve this situation by listening to our concerns and doing something about them. Our concerns are not just for teachers but for the future standard and provision of education.”

A list of some of the schools that have closed in Herts today can be found by clicking here