Striking teachers close schools
THOUSANDS of teachers in the south west spent last Thursday on strike and many schools closed or partially closed as a result.
Members of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers took industrial action over changes by the government to teachers' pay, pensions, working conditions and jobs.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said the 'overwhelming majority' of teachers in the south west, north east and Cumbria, south east, and London regions had some on strike.
He said: "Teachers are committed and dedicated public service workers. They do not take strike action lightly.
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"No teacher has any wish to inconvenience parents or disrupt pupils' education, but this action is not the failure or due to the unreasonableness of teachers."
The action was part of a rolling programme of national strike action which was preceded by strike action in the north west in June and in east, Yorkshire and Humberside, and east and west Midlands regions in October.
A Rally for Education was held in Totnes on the Wednesday before the strike in order to give teachers, parents, governors and students in South Devon the opportunity to discuss the issues that led to the decision to strike.
Almost 30 people attended the hour-and-a-half-long event at South Devon Arts Centre, which was chaired by rally co-organiser, teacher and parent Alex Moore.
Speakers included NUT division support officer Reuben Wallace, sixth form students Isaac Moss and Ian Carter, parent and former governor Patrick Cooper, teacher and parent Jennifer Poole, and teacher, NUT rep and rally co-organiser Jonathan Mason. They all supported the strike action.
Some of the wider concerns raised about the education service included the increasing use of unqualified and untrained staff, the narrowing of the curriculum, often at the expense of the arts, and cuts in local education funding with resources being diverted into the academy and free school programme instead.
Mr Mason said: "We were aware the strike caused inconvenience, but we feel there aren't any other options. This is only the second time I've been involved in a strike in 20 years, and last time it had an impact. We're doing this because we care about education.
"Einstein said not everything that's important can be measured and not everything that can be measured is important. There's an endless amount of target-setting going on. Sometimes data can be useful, but it feels sometimes like data has become the most important thing and we've lost the child in the middle."