Councillors attack school strike action

STRIKE action by West Sussex teachers last month was condemned as ‘premature’ during a county council meeting on Friday.

A cabinet report said ‘considerable disruption’ was caused to children’s education and to the lives of their parents/carers when 80 schools in the county closed and 81 were partially closed.

Bob Lanzer (Con, Maidenbower) said the disruption to 161 schools and to the employment of parents and guardians was a very high price to pay for a piece of premature industrial action undertaken while negotiations were ongoing.

Peter Griffiths (Con, Hurstpierpoint), cabinet member for education and schools, said it was extremely unfortunate that the action - called by two teachers’ unions - was taken.

Not only did it affect the schools and pupils, and those who had to stay at home rather than go to work, but it also put school governing bodies through some hoops as well.

The governors had to have some very deep discussions with heads and staff about whether they should keep the school open, and what measures they could take to do that.

They faced problems of protection for the children if temporary staff were employed, with Criminal Records Bureau checks involved.

“Very, very hard decisions had to be made,” said Mr Griffiths.

The industrial action was premature. Although he obviously supported freedom of expression of one’s point of view, the action should have been reconsidered because it inconvenienced so many people and so many young people.

Across the Horsham district 25 schools were closed or partially closed on Thursday June 30.

Around West Sussex some 124 schools were affected with thousands of families hit by the disruption.

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