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Schools shutting due to strike action
Many schools in south and west Dorset are closing amid strike action on Thursday.
Teachers have forced a shutdown of most schools with the one day walk-out over pay, pensions and changes to the education system.
Every secondary and middle school in the south and west of the county is closed with the exception of St Mary’s Middle School in Puddletown.
All Saints School in Weymouth will close for all years apart from Year 11 and not as previously reported.
The action by the National Union of Teachers (NUTNUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) will also affect some primary schools.
There are around 2,000 members of the teachers’ unions in Dorset with many expected to take part in the national walk-out which has seen rolling strikes take place across England.
NUT Dorset secretary Geoff Cooke said: “It does seem likely that the majority of the membership is taking part.
“We are never pleased that schools are closing because it means children being sent home.
“Teachers search their consciences before doing this.”
He added: “Schools in Dorset are in danger of losing a lot of integrity, funding and prestige they have had for many many years because of the education reforms.”
In Weymouth, Wey Valley, Budmouth and All Saints secondary schools will be closed along with the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA).
The Sir John Colfox School in Bridport and the Beaminster School will be shut. The Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis will be closed although it is open to sixth formers who can get in.
The Purbeck School and Sturminster Newton secondary schools will also be closed.
Many schools will be closed to pupils but non striking teachers will be going in.
David Akers, headteacher at Budmouth, said that the decision had been taken to close the school to pupils because of staffing numbers.
He said that potentially a number of staff could be out and that if they were they would not be able to run the school safely.
He said: “I decided to close the school on the grounds of safety.”
Wey Valley head Phil Thomas said in a letter to parents: “I am as disappointed as you will be that this action is taking place.
“However you will be aware from the press that this is a national dispute between the union and the government over a number of separate issues.
“The school will reopen on Friday, October 18.”
- Are you for or against the strike? Vote on the Echo website at dorsetecho.co.uk
PRIMARY school teacher Donna Beddows, who is a member of the NUT on the Dorset division committee, said: “Each time there’s a teacher’s union strike I read and see news reports where they talk of how inconvenient it is to parents who are left seeking childcare.
“Or how teachers aren’t showing that they care about the children’s education.
“This really upsets me to see teachers portrayed in such a way.
“Firstly, we are not babysitters and secondly, part of why we strike is that we do care a great deal. I realise that it inconveniences parents.
“However, the Government’s refusal to engage with unions to reach agreement has led to strike action.”
Miss Beddows said the strike was about workload as well as pay and proposals to make teachers pay more into a pension scheme and work longer.
“The Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove has imposed changes which are having an impact on the morale of teaching, recruitment and retention of teachers and on the provision of quality education.
“The reality of this is that teachers won’t want to continue in the profession, students won’t want to train to become teachers, and even if some do, there will be no jobs for them because 68-year old teachers will be occupying the jobs.”
Parents divided over issue
PARENTS were divided over the teaching strike.
Many left comments on the Echo Facebook page.
Joanne Corcoran said: “They don’t let us take kids out for a day but they can do this. It’s not on at all.”
Denise Wallis said: “Totally agree with the remarks about its OK for them to say one thing but if we take the child out of school for one day then we cop it.”
Steve Barrett said: “Disrupting education, then we say kids of today are way behind other countries, wonder why?”
Kimberley Louise Bake said: “Can we fine them for having a child out of school without parental permission?”
But other parents were behind the teachers. Lucy Hallett said: “They are not just fighting for their rights but also for our children’s rights to have qualified teachers, to protect SEN provision and to keep subjects like music and arts on the curriculum.
“Look at the bigger picture.
“Yes it’s inconvenient for many people but they need to stand up for what is right.”
Teresa Isaacs added: “I’m all for the strikes if the teachers are not getting what they are owed.
“They are educating our children and helping them learn the skills they may need in later life.
“Not only that but they are looking after our children for six hours a day minimum. It’s hard enough looking after one child let alone a class of thirty.”
PARENTS group leader Margaret Morrissey blasted the teaching unions’ decision to take industrial action.
Mrs Morrissey, of Parents Outloud, said: “I am absolutely disgusted.
“It is not acceptable in any way.
“I don’t want to hear another teacher from the union ever complaining again if a parent takes a child out of school for a day.
“If it is OK for the teachers it is OK for the parents.”
She added: “They have really shot themselves in the foot this time.”
Mrs Morrissey said the strike brought back memories of the wave of industrial action and school closures of the 1980s when she became involved in education and parents’ groups.
She said: “This strike is not acceptable under any circumstances.
“Parents do everything they can to support teachers but they will not support this.
“I am really very sad that they feel that they can do this.
“I’m not sure that they really think they are going to achieve by going on strike.”
Mrs Morrissey said that it would cause problems in terms of child care arrangements.
She added: “It will make an awful lot of parents very cross and cause problems for them.
“The teachers will turn around and say that they are not babysitters.
“But they are professional educated people of whom we expect better.”
Decision ‘not the council’s’
THE final decision to close a school rests with the headteacher and chairman of governors – not Dorset County Council.
Schools are not obliged to inform the council of their decision.
A Dorset County Council spokesman said: “Dorset County Council is working to ensure that as many pupils as possible can attend lessons during a planned teachers' strike on Thursday, October 17.
“The council is urging schools to stay open, where possible, during the National Union of Teachers industrial action. “Schools should be informing parents directly if headteachers and governors decide to close or partially close. School transport should run as normal where schools are open and with modified services in areas affected by a school closure. “The final decision as to whether a school remains open, closed or partially closed lies with the headteacher and the chair of governors.
“Please contact your child’s school for more information.”
SECONDARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS
All Saints School: CLOSED (but open for Year 11)
Beaminster School: CLOSED
Dorchester Middle School: CLOSED
Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy: CLOSED
Mountjoy School Beaminster: CLOSED
Purbeck School: CLOSED
St Mary’s Middle School, Puddletown: OPEN
St Osmund’s Middle School: CLOSED
Sir John Colfox School: CLOSED
Thomas Hardye School: CLOSED
Westfield Arts College: CLOSED
Wey Valley School and Sports College: CLOSED
Wyvern Academy: CLOSED
Woodroffe School: CLOSED (open to sixth formers who can make it in)
Beechcroft St Paul’s Primary School, Weymouth: OPEN
Bincombe Valley School, Weymouth: OPEN
Bridport Primary School: CLOSED
Broadmayne First School: OPEN
Broadwindsor Primary School: reception CLOSED but primary open
Bovington First School: OPEN
Buckland Newton Primary School: OPEN
Burton Bradstock School: OPEN
Cerne Abbas First School: OPEN
Charmouth Primary School: OPEN
Cheselbourne Village School: CLOSED
Chickerell Primary Academy: OPEN
Conifers Primary School, Weymouth: CLOSED
Damers First School, Dorchester: CLOSED
Frome Valley First School, Crossways: OPEN
Greenford Primary School, Maiden Newton: OPEN
Holy Trinity Primary School, Weymouth: CLOSED
Loders Primary School: CLOSED
Lulworth and Winfrith Primary School: CLOSED
Manor Park First School, Dorchester: OPEN
Marshwood Primary School: OPEN
Milborne St Andrew First School: CLOSED
Mrs Ethelston’s Primary School, Uplyme: OPEN
Parrett & Axe Primary School, Mosterton: CLOSED
Piddle Valley First School: OPEN
Portesham Primary School, Weymouth: OPEN
Powerstock Primary School: OPEN
Prince of Wales School, Dorchester: OPEN
Puddletown First School, Puddletown: OPEN
Radipole Primary School, Weymouth: OPEN for Years 2, 4 and 6 only
Salway Ash Primary School: OPEN
St Andrew’s Primary School, Weymouth: OPEN except for two classes
St Augustine’s Primary School, Weymouth: CLOSED
St Catherine’s Primary School, Bridport: OPEN
St John’s Primary School, Weymouth: OPEN
St Mary’s First School, Charminster: OPEN
St Mary’s Catholic First School, Dorchester: OPEN
St Mary’s Catholic First School, Wool: OPEN
St Mary’s Primary School, Bridport: OPEN
St Mary’s School, Beaminster: OPEN
St Mary’s, Thorncombe: OPEN
St Michael's Primary School: OPEN
St Nicholas & St Laurence School, Weymouth: OPEN except for Years 1 and 5 Southill Primary School, Weymouth: CLOSED
Sticklands Primary School, Evershot: OPEN
Sunninghill Preparatory School, Dorchester: OPEN
Symondsbury Primary School, Bridport: ‘LIKELY’ TO BE CLOSED
Thorner’s Primary School, Litton Cheney: OPEN
Thornlow Preparatory School: OPEN
Winterbourne Valley First School, Winterbourne Abbas: OPEN
Wyke Regis Infants, Weymouth: CLOSED
Wyke Regis Juniors, Weymouth: CLOSED
Wool Primary School: OPEN
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