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Schools strike defended after being condemned by MP
8:00pm Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in News
AN assistant head teacher at a South Somerset school has defended striking staff after Yeovil MP David Laws branded last Thursday’s action as unnecessary and disruptive.
Several schools across Chard, Ilminster and the villages were forced to close for the day-long strike by members of the NUT and NASUWT unions over pensions and working conditions.
Mr Laws, who is the Schools Minister, said he was disappointed that so many schools in his constituency took part, but stressed that more than 25% of them stayed open on the day.
He told the News: “I’m very sad that the strike went ahead because it’s not something the vast majority of teachers wanted to do.
“They lose pay and it is disruptive for parents. I don’t think it is necessary.
“The controversial changes being made are changes that have to be made across the whole public sector, and we’re doing that so decent pensions can remain in the future.
“The Government has delivered a good financial settlement for schools, and if we don’t reform it there would eventually be public pressure to move away from salaried pensions.”
He added: “I’ve had quite a varied postbag on this. I’ve had a lot of people, who had a lot of pressure on their pay and conditions in the past few years, who say the strike is wrong, and some people who are concerned about the reforms that are going on.
“However, I can say fewer than a quarter of teachers actually voted in favour of striking.”
Alison Frost, assistant head teacher at a primary school in the district, said the Government needs to think carefully about its plans for education.
She said: “All the teachers in my school work hard as they care for the pupils, family and community they work with, yet people in the Government want more.
“Please let me know how I can give more when I’m giving every possible piece of me I can. “I can’t even imagine doing this when I’m 48, yet alone 68, and I don’t think parents would want me teaching their child in that state.
“If the Government is serious about wanting children educated for longer, teachers will do what they have to, but there will be serious repercussions.”
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