Thousands of parents facing school strike headache
Parents are facing a day of disruption as schools across the city close this week due to strike action.
Dozens of schools in Devon will be shut either fully or partially in the day of action on Thursday over changes to teachers' pay, pensions, working conditions and jobs.
The walkout that is understood to involve an "overwhelming majority" of teachers in the region is part of a continuing campaign involving rolling regional strikes of members of the NUT and NASUWT.
The move is likely to cause widespread disruption for thousands of parents who will be forced to find emergency childcare or take a day off work.
Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th. Carol (with over 16yrs experience) has 10% off - facials. Pedicures. Manicures. Body wraps. Spray tans. Waxing. Tinting. Perming
Terms: For 2 days only. With therapist Carol. Please quote "2 day special offer".
Contact: 01271 440617
Valid until: Thursday, December 12 2013
Among the schools closed to all students are St Peter's Church of England Aided School and St Luke's Sports and Science College.
A number of primary schools will also shut including Pinhoe Church Of England Primary School and Whipton Barton Junior School.
Letters have been sent out to parents over the past fortnight informing them of the closures.
Mark Pinchin, principal of St Luke's, told parents: "This action is not against the college itself but is part of national industrial action organised by their Trades unions about changes to the pension schemes and conditions of service of their members. In view of the numbers involved in the industrial action, I will have to close the college to all students for the day.
"I am sorry for the inconvenience that this may cause to you and your family but I must ensure that when children and young people attend the college their well-being and safety is assured."
Some have reacted with anger at the strike, while others expressed sympathy for the teachers.
Naomi Brooks, who has children at Pinhoe Primary School and St Luke's School, expressed disappointment over the closure.
"Fortunately I have a day off work, otherwise I'd be stuck. I can see both sides of the argument, but teachers could stand their ground without interrupting parents," she said.
Alan Alfred, who has a daughter at Pinhoe Primary School, described the strike as "ridiculous" and "a pain in the backside".
He said: "I'm worried about the impact of children missing a day of school. But in the defence of teachers, they have their reasons for taking this action and not all are striking."
Selina Yelland, who has also has a daughter at the school, said: "Some parents will lose a whole day's pay at just a week's notice which will be hard for them.
"[But] the strike will be the last option teachers wanted, especially because children are involved."
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The overwhelming majority of teachers in the region will be on strike on Thursday.
"Strike action is a last resort, teachers have been left with no choice but to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the face of their genuine concerns being dismissed and trivialised.
"Teachers of course deeply regret any disruption to children and families. They are asking nothing more of the Secretary of State than to recognise that their pay and conditions of service are directly linked to the provision of high quality education and that their concerns cannot simply be ignored."
A spokesman for Devon County Council said: "We would urge schools to stay open if they can to ensure the continuity of their children's education and the least disruption to families."
A 300-strong rally was held last month in the city centre at Sidwell Street Methodist Church where teachers said they had no option but to go on strike.
Mike Gurney, a teacher at Okehampton College who lives in Exeter, speaking at the rally said: "We are trying to rally to show there is a crisis in education and unfortunately we seem to have a government which is now into attacking teachers and giving governors, pupils and students a hard time."