TEACHERS are set to strike, sparking school closures across Dorset.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has announced a proposed one-day strike on Wednesday March 26, which could see disruption at primary and secondary schools in the area.
The strike comes amid an ongoing row about pensions, terms and conditions and teachers’ concern for the education system in general.
Union bosses want to speak to Secretary of State Michael Gove about their concerns and say he has made no significant movement to meet them face-to-face.
Following a strike in October, a further strike in February was called off after it was hoped that talks would take place.
The planned strike next week could still be called off if there is movement on the issues.
Dorset secretary for the NUT, Geoff Cooke, said there had been talks but nothing significant.
He said: “No actual face-to-face discussion about what needs to change in order to get the education system back on track from our perspective.”
He added: “We wanted to talk to him at a national level about the changes he is proposing and about the way education in the country is going.”
He said that the ball was in Mr Gove’s court and had been since last summer.
Teachers are concerned about the way the education system was going, Mr Cooke said, especially about the high number of young teachers leaving the profession after only a few years.
Mr Cooke said that the strike action was a ‘last resort’ and no teacher wanted to have to take the action. He said: “They don’t want to do it at all. It’s against their instincts to affect parents or children.”
If Mr Gove did agree to sit down with teachers the strike could be called off within 24 hours, Mr Cooke said.
A spokesman for Dorset County Council said they are urging schools to stay open where possible, during potential industrial action.
They added that school transport should run as normal where schools are open, and with modified services in areas affected by a school closure.
Mark Loveys, lead advisor for school improvement with the county council said: “We are encouraging schools to stay open, where it is feasible and poses no risk to pupils as a result.
“However, the final decision as to whether a school remains open, closed or partially closed lies with the headteacher and the chairman of governors.
“All schools have been asked to give parents, school transport and pupils as much notice as possible.”