Teachers strikes affected Sidmouth schools

More than half of the area’s education institutions were shut or partially closed

STRIKE action saw Sidmouth schools left shut or partially closed yesterday as unprecedented numbers of teachers in the town protested against plans to cut public sector pensions.

More than half of the area’s education institutions were affected as staff responsible for youngsters’ learning warned their futures, and profession, were at stake.

And absent teachers admitted: “Most of us have never taken strike action before.”

Sidmouth College could only open its doors to sixth formers as around 23 staff went on strike.

Volunteers ensured more than 100 students could attend an East Devon Athletics event- a showpiece fixture in the college’s sporting calendar. Sidmouth Infants School was left shut, while children from six classes at St Nicholas Junior School were asked to stay at home.

Primary schools in Newton Poppleford and Branscombe were closed.

Most Read

Sidmouth College acting principal Julie Capewell regretted not being able to keep the whole college open.

She said: “We pride ourselves on staff who, week in week out, give way in excess of what you would expect of them.

“It was a very difficult decision for them to make. I hope parents don’t judge them too harshly.

“In no way shape or form do they want to undermine the education young people are receiving.

“While this will have caused disruption to parents, for which I apologise, please understand it was not a decision our staff took lightly.

“It would have been awful to deny students the opportunity to go to East Devon Athletics. I’m delighted that went ahead.”

Sidmouth Infants teachers said in a statement: “We take our responsibilities towards children very seriously.

“The proposed changes to the teacher’s pension scheme are so drastic and downgrading that we are not just concerned for our own situations, but also for the future of the profession.”

St Nick’s headteacher, Paul Walker, realised cancelling classes would inevitably cause inconvenience for parents ‘who themselves may be struggling with the results of recession and cutbacks.’

“Safeguarding the long-term future of our educational system is critical,” he added.

All Saints Infants, St John’s, and Sidbury and Beer Primary schools were unaffected.

It was business as usual for all schools today.