HUNDREDS of teachers across Gloucestershire will strike next week in protest to educational reforms.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is set to lead industrial action on Wednesday in disputes over performance-related pay, pension changes and an increasing workload for staff.
Gloucestershire divisional secretary John Pemberthy said Michael Gove has become the most unpopular education secretary ever for freezing salaries and forcing headteachers to complete “pointless bureaucratic tasks” and work longer hours.
Union members are calling on Gove to negotiate seriously over these concerns if he wants to avoid a national strike next Wednesday.
Mr Pemberthy said: “Our intention is not to disrupt local education, but rather to send a message to Michael Gove that he must not underestimate how unhappy teachers are with what we has done to the education system."
Union members, who are also against schools setting their own salaries, are aware that some people think teachers are paid well, but Mr Pemberthy said they are in comparison to unskilled workers, but not against other highly-trained professionals.
Notices have been sent to county schools to warn about the planned action, and leaflets will be handed to shoppers in Eastgate Street today.
Philip Rush, headteacher at St Peter’s Catholic School and Sixth Form Centre, Stroud Road, said his school will be open as normal.
He does support a number of Government initiatives, including the Pupil Premium, but says it is stressful setting fair teacher salaries.
“Some Government initiatives are very good and well-meant,” he said. “But the performance-related pay is a red herring and it seems good but unless you have a big pot of money to give people, you do end up robbing Peter to pay Paul. The real job of schools is to teach good lessons and I’m not convinced performance-related pay helps me do that.”
Richard Johnson, deputy headteacher at Severn Vale School, Quedgeley, said: “This is a very difficult time of the year for schools and it makes it very difficult to justify certain decisions.”
Jane Lloyd-Davies, head of education performance and intervention at Gloucestershire County Council, said, "It is up to individual schools to ask their staff how they intend to react to instructions from their union. "Schools then need to make a decision about whether they can cover classes and stay open or whether they need to close on the day of any planned strike.”