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Schools to be hit by strike

PUBLISHED: 11:18 22 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:12 05 July 2010

The growing impact of the teachers' strike in Suffolk was laid bare last night as a national survey predicted it faced the worst disruption in the country.

The growing impact of the teachers' strike in Suffolk was laid bare last night as a national survey predicted it faced the worst disruption in the country.

The revelation came as further school closures on Thursday were announced and Children's Secretary Ed Balls fired a broadside at teachers.

As of yesterday, 130 schools in Suffolk (87) and Norfolk (43) announced they would be closed or only partially open as the National Union of Teachers' (NUT) prepares for its first national strike in 21 years.

The bitter dispute was sparked after the government accepted independent recommendations for a three-year pay award with a 2.45pc rise in September and 2.3pc in the following two years.

The NUT says three years of below-inflation pay increases would be damaging for the profession and make recruiting new teachers more difficult.

Speaking on a visit to a children's centre, Mr Balls said: “Teachers should not be walking out. I'm very disappointed and I think that parents across the country are disappointed. I'm on the side of parents who will be disappointed if their children's education is disrupted on Thursday…”

A national survey of local authorities able to give concrete figures revealed that, as of yesterday, Suffolk was set to be the worst affected area along with Cheshire.

Peter Byatt, the Lowestoft branch secretary of the NUT, said he was happy by the response in the town where 60pc of members will be taking strike action.

“They feel very strongly about the issue. I'm very pleased about the response in Lowestoft where all three high schools and six out of the eight middle schools will be almost shut.”

The NUT says three years of below-inflation pay increases would be damaging for the profession and make recruiting new teachers more difficult.

Mr Byatt said the strong support for industrial action in Suffolk could also be linked to the recent decision to axe middle schools and insisted teachers were not letting children down.

“It's a one-day event and will have a minimum effect on children's education. We are doing it for the children,” added Mr Byatt.

But Ivan Ould, chairman of the National Employers' Organisation for School Teachers, which represents children's services authorities and local education authorities in England and Wales, said: “Children so close to their exams will lose out on invaluable study time and parents will lose out as they are forced to take unnecessary holiday to look after them.”

Meanwhile, further education colleges are also facing some disruption after the University and Colleges Union (UCU) also announced strike action on Thursday.

Last night, colleges saying they would be unaffected were Norwich City, Lowestoft, East Norfolk Sixth Form and Paston. Yarmouth College said it would have staff on strike, but was planning to open, while the West Suffolk College announced it would be open, but could not guarantee timetabled classes would take place as normal.

Thousands of members of the Public and Commercial Services Union, who work in a number of government departments, may also walk out over pay on Thursday.

Waveney school closures:

Beccles Middle; Benjamin Britten High, Lowestoft (closed to years 9 to11. Open for pupils taking exams); Bungay High; Bungay Middle; Bungay Primary; Elm Tree Middle, Lowestoft; Gisleham Middle; Foxborough Middle, Lowestoft; Denes High, Lowestoft (closed, but some sixth-form provision may be available); Kirkley Middle; Kirkley High (only sixth form open); Oulton Broad Primary (year 3/4 class closed for morning); Pakefield Middle; Reydon Primary (only nursery will open); Roman Hill Middle, Lowestoft; St Edmund's Catholic Primary, Bungay; Warren Special School, Lowestoft; Whitton Green Primary, Lowestoft (nursery and year three will be closed); Worlingham Middle; Worlingham Primary.

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