Pupils stay at home as teachers at west Cornwall school strike
Dozens of school children were turned away from the gates of a west Cornwall primary this morning after most of its teachers went on strike.
Six teachers at Heamoor Community Primary School near Penzance took part in the NUT-organised strike in opposition to excessive workload and the number of observations they are under.
The absences mean the school, which only has seven teachers, had to shut three of its classes for the day.
Hannah Packham, senior NUT organiser, said the strike is the only one of its kind in the South West and may be followed by three more strikes next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
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She said: "What we are looking to do is to get some working practises and policy in place that is acceptable both to the school and teachers.
"We have always said three observations a year should be the maximum. At the moment there is an unlimited number of observations.
"In terms of workload, they are asking for an inordinate amount of short term planning, that I have never seen at a school before. Even Michael Gove has said short term planning is not required."
Ms Packham added the strikes wouldn't have taken place if negotiations hadn't become stuck on one paragraph in the new policy.
But parent governor Alan Davis said the breakdown in talks had been due to misunderstandings on both sides.
He said: "What the teachers have asked for is there should only be three observations a year, at a maximum of three hours.
"That's all there has ever been and we have no plans to change it. The only time there has been more than three observations is where there are particular issues, and that has to be accepted by the union as well.
"They did take exception to governors coming in to the school and sitting in on a lesson. I believe this is a misunderstanding, it is not to observe the teaching it is to observe the children and the ethos of the school.
"They all work much longer hours than they ever have done, again that's not peculiar to this school. I'm not having a go at the teachers, it's the government.
"I am very sympathetic, I honestly believe in my opinion there is a total misunderstanding going on here. It's sad, I just hope that the anger and mistrust that builds up from these sort of things goes quickly after this is all over."
Parent Clare George's daughter had to stay at home for the day.
She said: "I don't work but people that do work, like a friend of mine, have got to go to work and try and find care for their children.
"We were told on Monday, it was the first I heard of it and its not been enough time to arrange child care. I have offered to look after other people's kids while they are working next week."