Parents have been assured by a Devon school that they are planning for the consequences of a series of teacher strikes.
Holsworthy Community College confirmed this morning that it has undertaken a risk assessment and there will be a reduced number of staff on site. The school will be closed to all students except vulnerable ones and students in Year 11.
Dan Morrow, chief executive of Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust (DMAT), wrote to parents ahead of today's (February 1) strike.
He said his management team’s priority was to ensure the strike had the minimal effect on pupils in order for them to continue to receive the highest standard of education and care possible.
He promised to prioritise continuity of learning for years six, 11, and 13 and for children of key workers.
If needed, in the absence of striking teachers, the senior leadership team and other non-school-based education leaders would stand in to oversee learning.
Vulnerable children would be welcomed into schools during the strike, where possible, though that ‘could be difficult in rural areas’.
Mr Morrow, who overesees three secondary, 14 primary schools and an ‘all-through’ school, said: ‘The right to strike is one that we, as a school and trust, have the utmost respect for.’
He said he supported the decision of every teacher in the union to walk out: ‘However, it is our priority to ensure any industrial action has a minimised impact on our pupils’ experiences and that they continue to receive the highest standard of of education and care possible.’
He said the trust was still assessing how many teachers will not be in work and are evaluating the impact.
The main and largest union involved, with 450,000 members, is the National Education Union (NEU) which represents teachers, school support staff.
The union declared seven days of strike action in February and March, though any individual school will only be affected by four of them.
The first, next Wednesday, will affect 23,400 schools in England and Wales.
The strike dates to affect the wider South West are on Wednesday and Thursday, March 1 and 2, with further dates on Wednesday 15 and 16 March. Other dates affect Wales and elsewhere in England. DMAT says its schools will be affected by February 1, March 2, 15 and 15.
The union says it decided to take strike action after the ‘failure by the Secretary of State in England and the employers in Wales to ensure enough money is available to pay a fully-funded increase in pay for teachers which at least matches inflation, and which begins to restore lost pay.’
In a statement to the Times DMAT Deputy Trust Leader, Susanne Kiff, said individual schools will be communicating the strike day plans directly to parents ‘in the next few days’.
She added: ‘We are supportive of colleagues who are taking the decision to strike following a rigorous national consultation process and will ensure that all schools can operate for the maximum number of pupils as is safe and right on strike days.’
She acknowledged the recruitment and retention of staff is a ‘pressing concern across the country and acutely within Devon’.