A STRIKE by teachers over pensions is expected to hit thousands of children and parents in Calderdale.
Dozens of primary and secondary schools have announced they will close next Thursday as staff take to the picket lines. And many more have yet to decide if they can cope with a reduced workforce as members of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers walk out.
One angry mum-of-two hit out, saying: “We are told we can’t take our children out of school in term time because it affects their school work – but the teachers can do this!”
Sam Pendleton, who has had to take an unpaid day off from her job at Sainsbury’s, Brighouse, went on: “I think it’s ridiculous. The teachers could have at least tagged the strike
on to the end of their holiday.”
Her daughter Lily, 12, attends Rastrick High School and son William, 10, is a pupil at Long Royde Junior School, Rastrick, which is also affected by the strike.
The 30-year-old mum, of Field Lane, Rastrick, said: ““We are told we can’t take our children out of school in term time because it affects their school work – but they can do this.
“It’s not fair to the children and it’s not fair to the parents.”
Julia Wilby, chair of governors at Rastrick High, which is among the confirmed closures, said: “There is no requirement on unions to inform us which members of staff will take action.
“As such it is very difficult to know which members of staff will be available to supervise children safely.”
Anthony Smith, head teacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School, which is also shutting, said: “As members of these unions make up more than 50 per cent of our teaching staff, we are unable to open safely and operate the school.”
The disruption means many working parents will be forced to take the day off.
In the NUT’s ballot, 92 per cent voted in favour of the strike, and 83 per cent of ATL members voted yes to industrial action.
Sue McMahon, Calderdale divisional secretary of the NUT, said: “We are seeing the Government intent on making teachers pay up to 50 per cent more in pension contributions, receive a much smaller pension and teach – as in the case of a young teacher – until the age of 68 in order to get a full pension.”
Ashley Evans, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for education, said the issues needed to be addressed, but a strike was regrettable.
He said: “Those most affected will be children, then parents and carers, and it’s not the children who are proposing changes to the pension schemes.
“I am not convinced that strike action is the best way of achieving the right ends.
“The country doesn’t need to return to a situation where strikes were common.
“Pensions do need reform but this is best achieved through negotiation, not polarisation of opinion.”
Schools are asked to let the council know if they will be closed or not, so they can be listed on its website.