THOUSANDS of schoolchildren have the day off today as more than 150 schools in Dorset and the New Forest close or partially close during the pensions strike.

Geoff Cooke, picture below, Dorset head of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said he did not expect any parents to follow education secretary Michael Gove’s appeal and take lessons for the day.

Dorset County Council said that from schools under its control, 56 are closing, 35 are partially closing, and 81 are staying open.

Many parents will need to arrange child care. Bournemouth-based Topps Day Nurseries said by 2pm yesterday it had 18 children booked for a special activity session today. Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said the strikes were “deeply irresponsible” because negotiations were still ongoing and the final pensions proposals are not yet known.

“This is going to deeply inconvenience parents already struggling to make ends meet as they take days off work and pay child care fees,” he said.

Mr Cooke said schools knew “unsavoury characters” could turn up to teach and that he did not think parents would want to be strike-breakers.

A couple of schools in the county had tried to get in cover teachers without realising they could not do that during a legal strike, said Mr Cooke.

“Deep down, parents know teachers don’t go on strike for silly reasons,” he said.

“Just because private sectors pensions have been plundered, there’s no reason to destroy affordable and reasonable public sector pensions.”

Teachers are staging national action because they will have to pay 50 per cent more into their schemes and the under-34s will only be able to retire at 68.

Prime Minister David Cameron said public sector pensions would still be far better than the private sector. He said the taxpayer contributes two thirds of the money in public sector pension schemes.

Stuart Twiss, head of education at Poole council, said: “Schools are open where it has been possible to create a safe environment.

“However, the final decision rests with the individual schools.”

The UCU, which represents college and university lecturers is also on strike.

A Bournemouth and Poole College spokesman said many vocational courses had finished but it would otherwise be open as usual.

“We don’t think we will have many people on strike,” he said.

A Bournemouth University (BU) spokesman said it would be open “as usual” but that most students had finished for the year.

A spokesman for BU’s branch of the UCU, which represents around 55 per cent of staff, said: “There will be pickets at both campuses. “The effect will mainly be on research, enterprise and assessment.”


Taking part in the strike:

The National Union of Teachers (308,560 national members) Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants (250,000) The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (121,000) University and College Union, which represents lecturers (110,000)

School closures (subject to late additions).


Poole High, Carter Community, Corfe Hills, St Edward’s, Baden-Powell, St Peter’s, Branksome Heath, Broadstone, Canford Heath, Oaksdale South Road. Broadstone First, Canford Heath, Hamworthy, Longfleet, Springdale, Stanley Greem, St Joseph’s, Longspee, Winchelsea, Bearwood (partial), Haymoor (partial), Heatherlands (partial), Hillbourne (partial), Montacute (partial), St Aldhems (partial), The Quay (partial).


Avonbourne (partially closed), Bournemouth School (partially closed), Oakmead College, Linwood (partially closed), Bicknell, The Bourne Academy, Bethany, Corpus Christi, Elmrise, Heathlands, Hill View (partially closed)Kings Park, Kingsleigh, Kinson, Malmesbury Park, Pokesdown Community, Queen's Park Junior, St Clements & St Johns, St James’, St Luke’s, St Mark’s, St Michael’s, Stourfield Infant, Stourfield Junior, St Walburga's, Epiphany, Winton , Moordown St John's.

There may be disruption at other Bournemouth schools and parents/carers are advised to contact their school directly for any further information.

New Forest closures in the Echo’s area:

Brockenhurst College (partial), Hale Primary in Fordingbridge (open from 12pm), New Milton Infants, Priestlands in Lymington.

Dorset Council’s complete closures in the Echo’s area:

Allenbourne Middle, Archbishop Wake, Blandford School, Blandford St Mary Primary, Bovington First, Bovington Middle, Burton Primary, Corfe Castle First, Cranborne Middle, Emmanuel Middle, Ferndown Middle, Gillingham, Hayeswood First, Highcliffe, Lulworth and Winfrith First, Lytchett Minster, Milldown Primary, Mudeford Junior, Queen Elizabeth's, Sandford Middle, Sandford St Martin's First, Somerford Primary, St Mark's First, St Mary's First, St Mary's Primary, St Mary’s West Moors, St Michael's Middle, Stoborough First, Sturminster Newton High, Swanage First, Swanage Middle, Upton Junior, Wareham Middle, Winterborne Valley First, Wool First.

Dorset Council partial closures in the Echo’s area:

Christchurch Infant, Christchurch Junior, Dunbury Primary, Ferndown Upper, Oakhurst First, Parley First, Purbeck, Shaftesbury School, Shillingstone Primary, Sixpenny Handley First, Stalbridge Primary, The Abbey Primary, Shaftesbury, The Gryphon, The Priory Primary, Christchurch, Three Legged Cross First, Trinity First, Twynham, West Moors Middle, William Barnes Primary, Witchampton First.

If you're taking part in the strikes today, text us updates, pictures and video from where you are to 80360, starting your message with BE.