Parents ‘in limbo’ as walkout looms

The National Union of Teachers members went on strike on March 26
The National Union of Teachers members went on strike on March 26

Parents across the Fylde have been left in limbo as teachers get set to take part in national strike action.

Thousands of children will miss lessons after families across Blackpool and Wyre were warned schools can and will be closed tomorrow as part of the industrial action, with parents at 11 schools already told to keep their children at home.

But in Fylde parents have been left in limbo as schools say they are unable to make a decision on closures until the last minute. And families at a further three Blackpool schools face the same potential childcare problems.

Dozens of schools are anticipated to be closed as members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) head to picket lines in an ongoing dispute over pensions, pay and opposition to the Government’s education reforms.

However, many parents will not know until later today if they have to make alternative arrangements for children tomorrow as school bosses have to respect teachers’ rights not to declare their intentions for the strike.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: “Teachers deeply regret the disruption caused by this strike action.

“The Government’s refusal, however, to engage to resolve the dispute means that we have no alternative.

“Teachers’ levels of workload are intolerable. Destroying the national pay framework means that in every school headteachers and governors have to worry about developing a pay system instead of focussing on teaching and learning. And teachers do not believe they can work to the age of 68 or even later for a full pension – and they don’t believe it is educationally desirable either.”

Nine schools today told The Gazette they would be forced to close tomorrow: Bispham Endowed, Boundary, Christ The King, Devonshire, Revoe, St John’s CE, St Nicholas, St Teresa’s and Thames.

These schools explained they had taken the decision to close last week, notifying parents to give them time to make alternative arrangements.

Of the resort’s high schools, Montgomery will be open, St George’s will be open to Years 10 and 11 only and Highfield for Year 11 only, while Collegiate will be closed entirely. Bispham, St Mary’s and Unity Academy were unable to give a definite answer.

All pupil referral units will be open.

A further five primary schools will be partially closed, with between two and eight classes off each: Baines Endowed, Claremont, Hawes Side, Kincraig and Stanley.

Meanwhile, 15 primary schools confirmed to The Gazette they would remain open: Anchorsholme, Layton, Marton, Gateway, Highfurlong, Holy Family, Mereside, Moor Park, Our Lady, St Cuthbert’s, Park, Roseacre, St Kentigern’s, Unity and Westcliff.

But some schools, Woodlands Special School and St John Vianney Catholic Primary School, told how they will be forced to give parents only a few hours notice due to teachers rights not to declare their action.

In Fylde, parents at St Michael’s CE Primary School, Kirkham, have been told to expect at text at 8.45am on Wednesday morning to tell them whether or not school is open.

Also using technology, staff at Lytham St Annes High School tweeted the school will be closed to Years Seven, Eight and Nine only.

Larkholme Primary School, in Fleetwood, is also due to close, as well as St William’s Catholic Primary School in Pilling.

However, Caridnel Allen, in the town, will be open to Years 10 and 11 only.

County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for schools, said: “In the main, schools manage themselves, so heads must decide how to deal with the upcoming strike.

“We will, of course, offer support and advice, but it will be up to heads to make their own decisions.”

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