Teacher strikes to begin – and this Leicester school is making sure they have maximum impact | UK News

Pupils and parents across the country are preparing for disruption on Wednesday as striking teachers at thousands of schools walk out.

At Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester, headteacher Daniel Hansen has made the decision to close to all pupils.

He supports the majority of staff who plan to strike, and is making sure the walkout has maximum impact by not even providing childcare.

Daniel Hansen
Daniel Hansen

Instead, lunch boxes will be made available for pupils entitled to free school meals to collect from the site.

“I think there are two key elements of this,” Mr Hansen said. “There’s the funded pay increase that we want for teachers that matches inflation.

“A huge element is the fact that we have to protect the education sector and the teaching profession going forward.

“We have to do something about it, otherwise nobody will want to become a teacher.”

At the school gate, many parents supported his decision, but others were concerned about who would look after their children on strike day.

Rachel Badzire has never been on strike before and, as a teacher in a special school in Cheshire, she has found the decision to walk out difficult.

Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester
Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester

‘Enough is enough’

“I love my children that I teach, and I think it’s a worthwhile job, however I do feel at this point in time it’s good for me to join with other members of my union and show solidarity,” she said.

“We need to put a message out to the government that enough is enough. We don’t have much money, and we need to make sure that we can pay bills and still have a life”.

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Have previous strikes been successful?

At Cockshut Hill Secondary School in Birmingham, they’ve decided to open to year 11 pupils who have their GCSE exams in the coming months as well as the youngest year group, year 7.

Any other pupils who are vulnerable will be allowed in, but the majority of pupils will have to remain at home.

Luca Duggan and Aya Seid are among the pupils who face a day of online learning. They’re both in year 10.

Aya Seid and Luca Duggan
Aya Seid and Luca Duggan

‘I’m a little stressed about it’

Luca, 14, said: “We get a break off school, but then that may affect our learning, but we’ve got online learning so not too much to worry about really.”

He added it feels “similar” to time off during the pandemic, and said he supports teachers “to an extent”.

“I feel like if that’s what they’re going to have to do to get the pay, then that’s what they’re going to have to do.”

Aya, 14, is more concerned. “It is quite a shame that we don’t get the education that we need,” she said.

“I am a little stressed about it. In school each lesson contains so much knowledge and so much information that could help us get a few extra marks to get a grade 9 in GCSE, but even though we are at home we are getting lots of work to do.”

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Why are teachers striking?

‘Get around the table and seek a resolution’

Vince Green, the CEO of the Summit Learning Trust that runs Cockshut Hill and seven other schools, is urging the government and unions to reach an agreement so that further planned strikes don’t happen.

“From my point of view we don’t want disruption to the learning of children and young people particularly after the levels of disruption that they’ve had in recent years through no fault of their own,” he said.

“What I’d really like to see if that the adults involved get around the table and seek a resolution prior to next month.”

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Schools minister Nick Gibb has said the government is having “very constructive discussions” on the teachers’ strikes, and has already held several meetings within the department.

“We are still negotiating and discussing issues of pay, of workload, and other issues that are of concern to teachers,” he said.

“It is disappointing the NEU [National Education Union] has decided to go ahead with strikes with all the disruption it causes to children’s education and to families and how they plan their working life.”