Strike action affects two-thirds of borough's pupils (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Around 70 primary and secondary schools in Waltham Forest are affected by today's National Union of Teachers strike
More than two-thirds of pupils across Waltham Forest are affected by today’s strike, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said.
Members of the NUT in Waltham Forest have walked out today as part of an on-going dispute with the coalition government over education reforms.
The union, which represents 2,240 members in the borough, has slammed education secretary Michael Gove’s plans to introduce performance-related pay, and changes to pensions.
Waltham Forest Council has said around 50 schools are closed and 16 are partially closed as a result of today’s 24 hour walk-out.
Steve White, division secretary of Waltham Forest NUT was at this morning’s rally in Walthamstow’s market square ahead of the regional demonstration in central London.
He said: "Most of the schools have closed and I don’t know of any secondary schools that will be open.
"Certainly 80 per cent of children will be affected."
Mr White then went on to say the strike was justified despite huge levels of disruption to children’s education and parents.
"I don’t believe I have to justify our position when education is being damaged by Gove’s policies. We apologise to parents for the disruption of today’s strike but we believe parents’ will receive a better education for their children in the long run.
"We are being attacked for not being good enough at our jobs and many parents will support us, more so than Gove,” added Mr White.
Union representative and art teacher Alison Stirling of Rushcroft Foundation School in Rushcroft Road, Chingford said parents support their fight against Mr Gove’s “unfair policies”.
She said: “We are here today because of the unfair policies Gove has introduced. I believe in education and his policies are damaging.
“They are creating a climate where us teachers cannot carry out our professional duties. Teachers at Rushcroft are hard-working and dedicated and closing the school was an absolute last resort.
“We want the very best for our children and we don’t believe Gove will give them the best chances to succeed. Parents have been incredibly understanding and supporting of us.”
Humanities teacher Phil Allsoff of the Chingford school said he was “really angry” with the proposed changes which he says are “detrimental to children’s education” and claims today’s action is “absolutely necessary”.
He also added relationships between teachers and pupils were lacking as “teachers are burnt out after a couple of years” and end up taking sick leave or leaving the profession as a result of excessive workloads.
The NUT has been embroiled in its dispute with the Government for more than two years, and staged a series of regional strikes with the NASUWT teaching union last year.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly.
"Despite this constructive engagement with their concerns, the NUT is taking action that will disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."
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