Residents back striking teachers

But with a number of schools in the area left shut or partially closed last Thursday, not all parents were convinced

STRIKE action by scores of teachers facing pension cuts and longer hours won sympathy from Sidmouth residents.

But with a number of schools in the area left shut or partially closed last Thursday, not all parents were convinced, write Charlie Lister and Claudia Hall.

Maureen Lydon, 49, a teaching assistant at Newton Poppleford Primary School, expressed support for her colleagues. She said: “I’m really happy where I work, but everyone is worried, tired and frustrated, and giving up a lot of their own free time. I feel a lot of sympathy for their cause.”

David Letten, 68, also of Newton Poppleford, agreed and said: “Teachers work very long hours. The proposed changes are severe and they will have to work even longer. They deserve recognition for doing such a valuable job.”

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However, parents such as 43-year-old Celeste Ingarfield, from Branscombe, found the week frustrating.

“My son is at Seaton Primary School and his class were off because of the strikes and the day after for teacher training,” she said.

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Mrs Ingarfield added: “I understand the point of view of the teachers, but it is very difficult when you’re a working parent, particularly as day-care is so expensive.”

Liz Seward, 42, of Newlands Close, has a son at Sidmouth College and a daughter at St. Nicholas Junior School.

She said: “My daughter’s teacher wasn’t part of the strikes, so she just enjoyed her long break-times that day. Both my son and I were very happy that he was able to go to East Devon Athletics with Sidmouth College.”

Mrs Seward added she could appreciate the teachers’ standpoint, but said: “Striking is not a fair way to express dissatisfaction.”

Sixteen-year-old Alex Gwillim, of Salcombe Hill, is on work experience as a teaching assistant at All Saints Infants School.

Miss Gwillim did not support the strikes as the best method of protest. She said: “Teachers have chosen to help students learn and students are dependent on them.”

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