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Thousands of parents “kept in the dark” over school strike action
THOUSANDS of parents could get as little as half-an-hour’s warning that their child’s school is closed due to strike action.
They are being kept in the dark as teachers across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset keep their plans for next Thursday secret.
Many headteachers are urging parents to make alternative arrangements just in case they don’t have enough staff to operate safely.
They have stressed members of the NUT and NASUWT don’t have to make their intentions known until the day of the strike, scheduled for October 17.
At some schools, including Twynham and The Grange in Christchurch, the decision to close the main part of the school has already been made.
Hillbourne and Longfleet in Poole, as well as St Luke’s in Bournemouth, have stated that they will be partially open.
At St Katharine’s in Bournemouth, head Nicola St John has told parents a decision will be made at 8.30am on the day of the proposed action.
She said: “The decision to close the school or send pupils home is never taken lightly but, in this instance, if staff have elected to take industrial action, I will have no choice but to take appropriate steps to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all pupils.
“This means that we may have to close the school or send home particular classes as I am not allowed to ask colleagues to cover for staff taking industrial action.
“As staff do not have to tell me in advance what their intentions are, I am unable to make that decision until I know who has arrived in school by 8.30am. We will do our best to provide as normal a service as possible.”
Twynham head Dr Terry Fish said the school is closed for Years 7 to 11 but will be open for sixth formers.
He told parents: “I am sorry about this but hope you will understand that we simply cannot run the school as normal. I do regret having to make this decision, which is simply unavoidable.”
A spokesman for Hill View in Bournemouth urged parents to make provisional arrangements and added: “We are aware that class/school closures inconvenience parents and carers. We will endeavour to give parents as much notice as possible.”
Local authorities are not yet aware of the impact in their areas and said many schools will not let them know because they are independently run academies.
At Poole council, information they receive will be put on the school status report page of boroughofpoole.com.
The one-day strike has been called by the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers over pay, pensions and changes to the education system.
They represent teachers in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset and the majority are expected to take part in the strike. Teachers claim Education Secretary Michael Gove’s plans for performance-related pay will have a detrimental effect on schools.
Strikes in other parts of the UK have led to the closure of hundreds of schools.
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