Schools' out as strike hits town

STRIKING teachers forced the closure of The King's School and Ottery Primary School yesterday.

STRIKING teachers forced the closure of The King's School and Ottery Primary School yesterday.Pupils at both schools were the only children in the Sid and Otter valleys to be off during the National Union of Teachers' strike.No other schools in the area were closed, and with only a 'handful' of its 50 teaching staff striking, Sidmouth College remained open.According to King's School's NUT father of chapel, history teacher Luke Gray, half its staff were NUT members and around 25 joined the strike, giving Years seven to 11 the day off, although sixth formers were able to attend.On Wednesday, he said: "There will be no protest, we don't picket schools. Some might go to the NUT rally in Exeter."I am very pleased with the support. While other unions are not going out they are very much in support of what we are doing."He said in the past three years teachers had received a less than inflation pay rise based on the consumer price index of two per cent rather than the cost of inflation at 4.8 per cent."It works out to less buying power of £500 a year. A lot of young teachers are paying back student loans."Faith Jarrett, headteacher at King's, confirmed: "The school will be closed to Years seven to 11 but open to the sixth form. When they are not being taught they will have all the facilities to use."She sent a letter to parents before the Easter break warning them of the closure, after teachers told her early of their intention to strike."Obviously we wanted to make sure parents had plenty of notice, because of the Easter break coming so late. "Due to health and safety, it was not possible to open the school and look after the pupils' safety."Doug Rylance, head at Ottery primary, was out of school yesterday on business. The non-NUT staff from the 17 full and part-time teachers employed there were at school although it was closed to pupils.A letter went to parents warning them of the industrial action. In it Mr Rylance said: "Members of staff do not take this action lightly, but I do appreciate the inconvenience this will cause to families, who will need to ensure arrangements are in place.

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