Special schools bore the brunt of a two-day strike by support staff this week, with around a third affected by the action. A survey by The TES suggested around 350 of 1,200 special schools in England and Wales planned to close their doors, and about 50 more planned partial closure during the action on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Unison and Unite unions said 620,000 local government workers, including 220,000 teaching assistants, dinner ladies, caretakers and other staff, were expected to support the strike over pay. The TES survey of councils indicated less disruption in primary and secondary schools than for the recent NUT strike, with figures suggesting around 2,320 primaries and 420 secondaries were affected.
The NUT action on April 24 involved a total of 9,500 schools. But as The TES went to press, support staff union Unison said special schools were not "disproportionately affected".
In Wales, it was estimated that 600 schools were forced to shut.
Dawn Bowden, regional manager for Unison Cymru, said: "Our members provide all the support services in schools. If they're not in work, teachers can't operate."