Union: Strike will shut all Suffolk primary schools

SUFFOLK: Thousands of teachers will strike over pensions next week closing every primary school in the county, a union chief has warned.

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), predicted all schools would be affected by the walkout next Thursday.

He said all of Suffolk’s 255 primary schools would have to close while its stock of 78 middle and high schools would be unable to open as normal.

But Suffolk County Council said it is too early to say which, if any, schools would shut.

The NUT and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers voted last week for industrial action after a dispute with the government over teachers’ pensions. They say Whitehall changes will mean they work longer, pay more and get less when they retire.

“If you take 4,000 teachers out of schools that’s going to have a huge impact,” said Mr White. “Primary schools, I can’t see how they are going to open. Secondary schools just by their size may be able to cobble something together.”

He said head teachers are expected to announce later this week how each individual Suffolk school will be affected.

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“I would expect most staff to be out.This is an issue that unites all teaching staff,” added Mr White.

“There will not be a single school that will be open as normal.

“The government has not listened to anything that teachers have said in terms of pensions. The Teachers’ Pension Scheme is sustainable – that’s what the Public Accounts Committee has said and the National Audit Office has said but the government has not accepted that, without coming up with any evidence to support that view.

“They have told staff they have to pay more and get less out of it at retirement and that they are going to have to worker longer.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We are encouraging teaching staff to inform their head- teachers if they intend to strike, so that we can plan ahead and ensure welfare and safety of students. At this stage it is too early to say which, if any, schools will be affected.

“We will be listing any closures on www.schoolclosures.suffolk.gov.uk next Wednesday so that parents know exactly what is happening as a result of the strikes.”

n What do you think of the planned strike by Suffolk teachers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk