Parents aren't impressed

25th April 2008 at 01:00
Parents have little sympathy for yesterday's planned strike action over pay by members of the National Union of Teachers
Parents have little sympathy for yesterday's planned strike action over pay by members of the National Union of Teachers.

A survey, commissioned by The TES and the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA), shows 42 per cent support the Government. Nearly a third said the strike action had lowered their view of teachers. But most of the parents responding said their view of the profession was unchanged.

The online survey of 750 PTA members showed 85 per cent believed their children received "good" or "excellent" teaching.

The lukewarm response from parents will be a factor for the NUT leadership when it decides whether to proceed with a ballot for rolling strike action, as its Easter conference demanded.

As The TES went to press, the Government showed no signs of agreeing to the NUT's demands.

But some members were defiant, calling for a series of strikes starting in June: "We have to step up the action," said a newsletter distributed by activists in London.

"Will the Government have to listen to us? Yes. But only if today's strike is the start of the matter."

The Federation of Small Businesses warned that this week's planned strike would cost the economy millions of pounds as parents stayed home from their jobs to look after their children.

Nearly 40 per cent of parents in our poll said they would take time off work to look after their children. Others said they would leave them home alone or in the care of friends or relatives. Almost 6 per cent said they would pay for childcare.

Teachers want an above-inflation pay rise of 4.1 per cent. Thousands of schools in the UK were expected to close yesterday. As TES Cymru went to press, figures obtained by local authorities showed 1,730 schools would shut, mostly in Cardiff, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan, where much of the strike action is concentrated. Schools cited health and safety reasons for closure, but much of North and West Wales remained unaffected.

The NUT was the only teaching union not to sign up to the Government's pay deal, which would increase teachers' salaries by 2.45 per cent this year, and 2.3 per cent in the two following years. Other unions accepted the best deal they could expect in the current climate.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has boasted a tripling of the expected monthly number of new recruits this April.

Christine Blower, the NUT's acting general secretary, said she thinks teachers still have parents' goodwill. "I can't deny some are opposed to strike action, but we haven't felt a wave of opprobrium coming in our direction," she said.

News, page 6.

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