26 Pembrokeshire schools to be hit by teacher strike

1:21pm Tuesday 25th March 2014

TWENTY-SIX Pembrokeshire schools will be affected by industrial action by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) tomorow (Wednesday).

Stepaside and Pembroke Dock Community School will close for the day, with further schools partially closed.

Partially closed schools include Greenhill, Sageston, Ysgol Glannau Gwaun, Prendergast, Fenton, Johnston, Coastlands, Hakin, Golden Grove, Saundersfoot, Solva, Tavernspite, Broad Haven, Roch, St Oswalds, Stackpole, Tenby, Mary Immaculate, St Mary’s, St Marks, Ysgol Bro Dewi, Portfield, Ysgol Dewi Sant and Tasker Milward.

The NUT, which has about 300 members in Pembrokeshire, is holding the national strike as part of a dispute with the UK government over pension changes, pay and conditions.

Recent pension changes mean teachers will be expected to work until the age of 68. Schools also now have the discretion to make decisions on pay, and the requirements for “pay portability” – which provides teachers with protected salaries when moving schools – has been removed in some areas, including Pembrokeshire.

Anton Brcar, NUT secretary for Pembrokeshire, said: “There is no guarantee pay will be equal or matched, and this will inevitably have an effect on attracting experienced teachers to Pembrokeshire.”

A survey by the Department for Education found primary school teachers work on nearly 60 hours a week on average, with secondary school teachers clocking up an average of 56 hours a week.

Mr Brcar, a teacher at Greenhill School, Tenby, said increased workloads were largely down to the “exam factory” which is putting pressure on teachers to get good results.

He added: “Another consideration is the sustainability of that kind of workload. When I started teaching I signed up to a contract with a pension at 60 - in 2015 that will rise to 68. There may be some teachers who can work on until 68 but many can’t.”

Pension changes were introduced by the Westminster government “without fair negotiation and consultation”, Mr Brcar said.

He added: “Basically we want to get the message across that we want [the Secretary of State for Education] Michael Gove to listen to us.

“Teaching used to be a career for life but more and more people are leaving in the first few years.

“You speak to young teachers, who are talented, but they have no intention of staying in the profession because it’s just not sustainable.”

Pembrokeshire County Council cabinet member for education Cllr Ken Rowlands said: “It’s sad that 20 schools will be affected by this strike which I don’t think will help anyone, least of all our children who will only suffer.”

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