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Union warns that half of Suffolk schools to close in teacher strike

PUBLISHED: 09:32 29 June 2011

HALF of Suffolk's schools are expected to be closed tomorrow (Thursday) as headteachers struggle to cope with the number of staff members going on strike.

As a national row over pensions continues members of the NUT and the ATL unions are striking, leaving many parents facing difficult child care dilemmas for the day.

The teachers’ unions are campaigning against changes to their pensions which they say will mean working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.

The Government insists any changes will be fair and affordable to the nation.

Graham White, the division secretary for the NUT’s Suffolk branch, said it was “very likely” that if the Government did not move its position, there would be more strikes in the autumn.

He said: “The NUT and ATL have 4,000 members in Suffolk which represents something around half of all teachers in schools, which is why there’s such a big impact.

“Something like half (of the schools) will be completely closed and about half will be partly closed. This is not an argument with head teachers, governors or pupils - it’s with the Government and they are not listening.”

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for children, schools, and young people’s services, said it was still too soon to know with any certainty how many schools would close.

He said: “First and foremost, I’d like to thank those teachers who are not striking on Thursday.

“Everyone recognises the issues they are facing but taking action that affects young people’s education is not the best way to resolve them.

“We are encouraging teaching staff to inform their head teachers if they intend to strike, so that we can plan ahead and ensure welfare and safety of students.”

He said any closures would be listed on the council’s website.

Many small primary schools are set to open as normal, with sites such as Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Southwold Primary Schools offering classes for all children.

Some larger schools are experiencing more complex logistical challenges, with sites including Leiston and Hartismere High Schools closing to all pupils.

Others will be closed to certain year groups.

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