THOUSANDS of pupils across the city are having their education disrupted today by a teachers’ strike.
More then two thirds of Wearside’s primary and secondary schools are either closed or partially closed because of the action by the National Union of Teachers.
The strike is part of a long-running battle with the Government over pay, pensions and conditions.
Unlike previous recent strikes, the country’s other biggest teaching union, the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers), decided not to join today’s action.
Sarah Lake, branch secretary of Sunderland NUT, said: “Life for working people is getting harder, not easier.
“Last week’s Budget will have had little impact on the income of public-sector workers. This continues to fall in real terms.
“Recent Government plans wanted to see teachers and pupils spending even longer in the classroom when many teachers are already working long into the night to complete marking and preparation.
“This strike is intended to be a message to the government that teachers must be treated better.”
Sarah, who is also a spokesman for the City of Sunderland Teachers’ Association, said the strike is part of the campaign to protect pay and pensions and to ensure a workload that means children receive the best possible teaching.
The strike follows a series of regional walk-outs in the autumn, which the NUT claims were very well supported by parents.
Members of the NUT say Government changes, such as teachers working to 68 and over, increasing pension contributions by 50 per cent and introducing performance related pay, will all have a damaging effect on education.
Sarah said: “Recent figures published by the Government show that teachers in primary schools are working 60 hours a week.
“The NUT believes that this is too much and is one of the reasons why so many young teachers are leaving the profession.”
As well as taking strike action, the union has launched a campaign, Stand Up for Education.
Its aims are to ensure that every classroom has a qualified teacher, local authorities can open new schools where needed, changes to the curriculum and exams are positive and well planned, new recruits are encouraged into the profession and schools work together.