Headteachers show ‘huge sympathy’ to striking teachers

Teacher strike ‘more likely than it’s ever been’ says NEU chief

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Headmasters are ignoring the Goverment suggestions on how to keep schools open during the upcoming teacher strikes due to being sympathetic to their staff’s demands. The first strike will take place on February 1 in both England and Wales as the National Education Union (NEU) plan a teacher walkout.

On Tuesday, schools began writing to parents that students may have to stay home during the teacher strikes, which could affect entire year groups.

The Goverment has advised schools to adopt new measures during the strikes, such as bringing in supply teachers, having bigger class sizes or arranging days out for students with theatre or sports trips in order to keep schools open.

However, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has said school leaders have “huge sympathy” with their teacher colleagues.

He said: “[Headermasters] are just as frustrated that the Government has failed to address this appalling situation.”

Mr Barton also said that using volunteers or agency staff to cover teachers on strikes may cause “a difficult issue as it may sour industrial relations”.

The Telegraph has reported that some school leaders are hesitant to keep schools open as they fear being labelled strikebreakers if they bring in support staff.”

However, the source added that headteachers were “mostly” sticking to plans in order to be open for vulnerable, critical workers, early years, Year 6 and Years 11 and 13”.

The Co-op Academy Southfield, a special secondary school in Bradford, has said to parents that the upcoming strikes “may mean that some children will need to remain at home”.

Vic Goddard, co-principal of Passmores Academy in Harlow, Essex, has said that while he supports the upcoming strikes he feels “torn” about closing the school.

He said it may make an impact for the teachers by closing the school for some year groups, but he also wished to support his local community by keeping the school open.

Iain Mansfield, the head of education at the Policy Exchange think tank also spoke about the impact closing schools may have on students.

He said: “It may not be possible to do so in every case, but any heads who deliberately refuse to implement the guidance the Department for Education has set out are not acting in the best interests of children.

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Jonathan Gullis, the Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and the former education minister under Liz Truss, has accused headteachers of supporting strike disruption by refusing to consider options to keep schools open.

He said: “Any head who creates a postcode lottery in the quality of education that young people can get will be undermining the teaching profession, undermining parents who will be losing out on pay and undermining pupils and their progression – all for their own selfish game.”

During the House of Commons debate on industrial action last week, Mr Gullis criticised teachers’ unions and accused them of making students “continue to suffer”.

He said: “I am very worried seeing teachers going on strike, because it is the pupils who will suffer most, particularly disadvantaged pupils from areas such as Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke.

“While I am a huge admirer of the incredible work that teachers do, they are sadly being cajoled out of the classroom by baron bosses in unions such as the ‘Not Education Union’, led by Bolshevik Bousted and Commie Courtney, along with their Labour mates, to make sure that kids continue to suffer. What can we do to ensure pupils will not be victims any further?”

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