Newham parents divided over today’s teacher strikes

Parents’ opinions are split over today’s teacher strikes which are expected to close almost all of the schools in the borough.

Widespread disruption is likely due to the nationwide rally by the National Union of Teachers against changes to pensions and pay.

The action follows a strike by teachers from Avenue Primary last month and national strikes in October last year which saw just three schools in the borough remain open.

Francesca Sharp, whose daughter attends Avenue Primary, said teachers working for state schools receive a better deal than most, including her husband who works in the private teaching sector.

“If you choose to do that job, you know what you are getting into and there are a lot of perks that you don’t get in other jobs,” she said. “I don’t work, so childcare isn’t an issue, but it is affecting the children’s education.”

Attia Aslan, whose daughter goes to Salisbury Primary, said she was supportive of the strikes, particularly as she is currently studying for a PGCE to become a teacher herself. “We have just had a parents’ evening at the school and you really see the effort that goes in and the encouragement that they give,” she said.

Zara Rahin, whose daughter attends Avenue Primary, said closing schools was unfair on working parents.

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“We have had closures twice already in this last [academic] year,” she said. “Child care is an issue and should be provided for working parents.”

Natasha Nakova, whose children attend Sheringham Primary, said teachers should find another way of airing their grievances.

“There must be some other way,” she said. “They [strikes] seem to be happening very often. It affects working parents who have to stay at home.”

But Whitney Riley, whose daughter attends Salisbury Primary, said she believes everybody has a right to a good pension and Justina Skubij said one day’s action was not a cause for concern.

Many parents were given notice that there was a possibility that schools could close today and have been told to make alternative childcare arrangements.

Speaking to the Recorder on Monday ahead of today’s strike, Peter Smith, Newham NUT Secretary, said the strikes would be on a similar scale to last year’s action.

“Teachers do not like taking strike action but they are prepared to lose pay to stand up for education,” he said. “We do apologise for the inconvenience to parents but we hope they will support us.”

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