Sidmouth schools hit by teachers’ strike

Sidmouth and Ottery schools affected by one-day strike call over pensions

SCHOOLS across East Devon will close next Wednesday when teachers join a TUC one-day strike over pensions pay.

West Hill and Beer Primary Schools will be unaffected by the strike call, but The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, will close and there will be limited opening at Sidmouth College.

College principal Jeremy Roberts told parents: “It is important to stress that this action is not being taken against the college, but is part of national industrial action.”

Union members are not obliged to tell schools in advance if they are taking industrial action.

“I am very grateful staff here have been ready to share all necessary information with me so that I could make a decision about arrangements for the day,” he said.

The college will close to Years Seven to 10 students. Intervention sessions planned for Year 11 will go ahead although normal lessons will not take place.

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Post-16 classes for sixth formers will go ahead in those subjects for which teachers are in school. There will be no catering facilities.

The King’s School, Ottery, head, Faith Jarrett, confirmed strike action by teaching and support staff unions would close the school, saying: “If all of the union members were to strike we would have about five teachers left, so with health and safety there is no way we could stay open.”

Parents will be kept updated via the school’s website.

Paul Walker, Sidmouth Primary head, has told parents of its 550 pupils the school will now close, having hoped it might remain partially open.

He said: “The reason we will have to close is that there will not be enough suitable staff in school to safely supervise and educate the number of pupils we have on roll.”

Katie Gray, Branscombe Primary head, has done a risk assessment and decided to close the school.

She said: “I am very sorry, as a headteacher, that we are not open for our children, however, I understand the very strong feelings among teaching and support staff about changes to their pensions.”

Sidbury Primary will offer a restricted curriculum on Wednesday, said Charlotte Hill, head of teaching and learning.

Doug Rylance, head at Ottery Primary, has notified parents of the strike, saying: “Obviously, members of staff do not take this action lightly.”

Union members at East Devon District Council may also join Wednesday’s strike, although waste and recycling services will not be affected.

“Disruption will be kept to a minimum,” said a council spokesman.

NUT regional secretary, Andy Woolley, anticipates a large number of teachers will join a march and rally in Exeter on Wednesday, assembling at Cathedral Green at 11am.

“We anticipate large numbers of schools will be closed,” he said.