UPDATE: Strike action to shut Harrogate schools

Teachers's strike action is scheduled across the UK
Teachers's strike action is scheduled across the UK

Harrogate Grammar, Rossett and St John Fisher Catholic High Schools, as well as King James’s in Knaresborough, will be closed to pupils on Tuesday.

The schools are closed to students, apart from sixth formers studying privately for the day, because of the number of teachers involved in NUT and NASUWT action regarding union disputes over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Both Harrogate High and Nidderdale High Schools will be shut to years 7, 8 and 9.

At St Aidan’s CoE High School, year 7 pupils will be taught as normal, and sixth formers can come in to study privately.

However, the school will be closed to year 8, 9, 10 and 11 pupils.

Darley Community Primary School, Hookstone Chase Community Primary School, Oatlands Community Junior School, Saltergate Infant School, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Starbeck Community Primary School and Willow Tree Community Primary School will be partially closed.

Paul Jackson, headteacher of St John Fisher Catholic High School wrote to parents: “It is with regret that I am writing to inform you that St John Fisher Catholic High School will be closed for pupils on October 1 2013, as a response to the Industrial Action being undertaken by teachers who are members of the NASUWT and NUT. We apologise to all parents for the inevitable inconvenience that this may cause.

“The unions have informed us that this trade dispute is over adverse changes to teachers’ conditions of service, including pensions at a national level.

“It is not action directed at our particular school. Our current information is that over 60 members of the teaching staff will be taking action out of a total of 97 teachers.

“We have undertaken a risk assessment and the Governors believe that we would not be able to adequately and safely supervise the children with such a large proportion of staff not present.

“The school will remain open for Sixth Form students who wish to undertake private unsupervised study. Members of staff who are not taking action will of course be in school on that date.”

John Wood, headteacher at St Aidan’s, said: “An email has been sent to parents, and sixth formers will also recieve a letter on Monday.”

Harrogate High School Principal Andrew Bayston said to parents: “I am sorry to let you know that owing to strike action on this day the school will be closed to all Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 students.

“However, I am able to confirm that the school will remain open to Year 10, Year 11 and Sixth Form students.

“In the interests of health and safety and based on the information available to me at this time I have no alternative other than to take this decision.

“I apologise to the parents and carers of the Year 7, 8 and 9 students who will be inconvenienced as a result of the industrial action.”

North Yorkshire County Council has contacted school governing bodies about the action.

A spokesperson said: “The local authority has written to school governing bodies of the continuing industrial action between the National Association of School Teachers & Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), National Union of Teachers (NUT), and the Secretary of State, over teachers’ pay and working conditions.

“The local authority is not a party to this national dispute but is offering support and advice to schools, as well as liaising closely with the professional associations involved.

“The local authority strongly encourages governing bodies and headteachers to keep schools open wherever possible to maintain continuity of educational provision, taking into account health and safety requirements.

“Should governors and headteachers feel it necessary to close their school, parents must be informed at the earliest possible stage and the local authority notified of any full or partial closures.”

Click here to see a district-wide list of primary and secondary school closures

Pat Hunter, headteacher at Rossett School, said the school would shut because lessons could not be delivered, and she could not guarantee pupil safety.

Mrs Hunter said: “We have got over 80 out of 100 teaching staff intending to take action. I cannot do any meaningful lessons or meaningful curriculum work or guarantee safety with those numbers.

“Our chair of governors has agreed we will close for that day. Sixth form students may come in for private study. I have written to parents to inform them.”

A Grammar School spokesperson said: “Over half of our staff are striking. We have had to close the school, and buses have been cancelled.

“However, we are open for sixth formers to come in and do their work.”

Celia Foote is the National Executive Member for NASUWT in North and West Yorkshire.

She said: “Every school in Harrogate will be affected in some way or closed.

“If they are not closed, there will be some staff off. Between us, the NUT and NASUWT represent 90 per cent of teaching staff who are union members.”

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