West Penwith schools poised for strike action today in Gove rebuke
PRIMARY and secondary schools in west Cornwall were poised to close today due to strike action.
Yesterday morning, more than ten schools were confirmed to be shutting as part of a nationwide protest against proposed education reforms led by the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters' Union of Women Teachers.
Head teacher of Cape Cornwall School, St Just, Julie Nash, said she is fully behind the strike: "I feel overwhelmed by the political intervention in education.
"I have had to make decisions recently that have been the most challenging of my headship to date.
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"I am appalled at the inference our staff don't work hard enough. I am supported by brilliant and committed colleagues who simply couldn't work harder. We want the best for our students and I defy Education Secretary Michael Gove to find a school that doesn't."
Phil Morley, union representative and assistant head at Newlyn Primary, said the action came with reluctance but said teachers feel "backed into a corner".
"We tried to negotiate with Michael Gove but he rejected that. We're trying to deliver the best education for children and we feel under threat – the profession is under attack."
He added that the area could be significantly impacted. "Regional pay could be very damaging here. It would be negative in Cornwall's economic situation."
Around 70 schools in Cornwall are set to partially or fully close, joining other regions in disputing plans to overhaul the pay system, working conditions and pensions.
The strike has caused problems for some working parents.
Sarah Hughes, a Warrens employee in Penzance, said she believes in teachers' right to strike and said the schools provided an "outstanding education" but said she will be out of pocket.
"As a working mother, I sort my week out around my kids. It really affects us financially," she said. "Childcare is £45 – it's more than I earn in a day."
Mel Mason, who works at H Samuel, said her parents can help out but added she knows many without that option.
"I'm lucky, but I know lots of parents who have had to take the day off. I understand why the teachers are doing it but it's difficult for families."