Day of action closes two-thirds of schools

30th November 2011 at 16:56
It was billed as the biggest strike in a generation; in terms of sheer scale, today's industrial action over pensions reform did not disappoint

Official figures from the Department for Education released this afternoon show that more than 13,300 schools were closed due to the action - almost two out of every three schools in the country. Another 3,000 schools (14 per cent of the total) were partially closed, while just 3,300 (16 per cent) opened as normal. The arrangements for the remaining 8 per cent of schools were unknown.

The strike came a day after chancellor George Osborne risked further union ire by announcing that, after the current freeze on teachers' pay comes to an end, a 1 per cent cap on any future annual pay rises will be imposed for a further two years.

In addition, he also said he was keen to explore the possibility of regionalised pay deals for public sector staff, including teachers.

A lower proportion of academies - 57 per cent - were completely closed, while 19 of the 24 free schools remained open as normal.

"Industrial action today has had a severe impact on schools across the country and has caused disruption to children's schooling and to parents and employers," education secretary Michael Gove told MPs. "At the same time, we know that many dedicated professionals have worked hard to keep schools open where they could."

The three classroom unions - ATL, the NASUWT and the NUT - were among the estimated two million public sector workers involved in the action, along with the University and College Union. In an unprecedented move, members of heads' union the NAHT took part in the first strike in its 114-year history.

From Bath to Barrow-in-Furness, from Cardiff to Cambridge, teachers bearing flags and banners were among hundreds of thousands of public sector workers who took to the streets for a host of marches and rallies to express their anger at what they regard as an unjustified raid on their pensions.

Speaking at a rally in Manchester, ATL general secretary Mary Bousted told the Government: "Stop engaging in megaphone diplomacy. Stop the threats and the misrepresentation. Start behaving responsibly. Start acting like a Government not like a shower. And let's get a resolution to this dispute."

Striking views.

Warm wishes to colleagues taking action today, and to those who are not. Strong values drive both choices.
Russell Hobby (on Twitter), NAHT general secretary

The difference with this strike is that heads are supporting us. I used to feel like heads thought they were inviting in the Grim Reaper when I went into schools. Now they are very welcoming. This Government has done something unions never could and united everyone in schools.
Ray Sirotkin, joint secretary, Lambeth NUT

I don't see why I should have to pay what is essentially a tax - teachers didn't cause the problems in the banking system. It's not fair we should have to bear the brunt. The Government seems to want to pit private sector workers against those in the public sector. But my friends who work in the private sector are supportive.
Bridget Chapman, SEN teacher, London Nautical School

[Public sector workers] are being fleeced for the sins of bankers, who are still walking away with massive bonuses.
Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary

I've got two to three years to go until I retire, so I'm not on strike for me, but for the greater good and for the whole education system. It took a lot of consideration to come out on strike. I care a lot about the school and its community.
Eileen Ross, Lambeth NAHT president and headteacher of Herbert Morrison Primary School, south London

Can you imagine being a 67-year-old PE teacher, taking a class of 30? It wouldn't be good for the children or the profession.
Kim Vollerthun, construction teacher, Cottenham Village College, Cambridgeshire

I can't afford to take home any less pay than I do now. My pension will cost me pound;80-pound;100 extra a month. It will mean I can't afford to live as I do now and might hinder my attempts to get a mortgage.
Pippa Spratt, GMB member and higher level teaching assistant, Herbert Morrison Primary School, south London

We want the strike to demonstrate that ministers' cover has been blown on this. Our members know it's not a generous offer.
Christine Blower, NUT general secretary

I think a lot of people will leave the profession; it's going to be a huge deterrent. You already work long hours and no one goes into the job for the pay.
John Cattermole, headteacher, Wilbury Junior School, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire

When I became a teacher we struggled as a family to make ends meet, but I knew there would be a decent pension at the end of it. I was around during the strikes in 1979 and 1985, and there is more anger now than there was then.
Geoff Fewtrell, ICT teacher and secretary for Cambridgeshire NASUWT

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