By Anders Anglesey
Hundreds of children in Leeds missed a full day of learning today as the National Union of Teachers strike closed down schools across the city.
But teachers at the NUT rally in Leeds City Museum said the strikes were necessary to secure better working conditions and claimed that the Department for Education’s
plans to raise the retirement age to 68 and increase pension contributions were unreasonable.
History teacher, Richard Firebank, 35, said: “The massive increase to working hours to 56 hours a week means I work virtually every night, all day Saturday and Sunday in order to keep up with my work.”
Leeds’ NUT secretary Patrick Murphy says that this dramatic increase since 2010 is driving many teachers away from the profession.
“Those hourse are completely unsustainable,” he said. “That is why 40 per cent of teachers are leaving the profession within five years of completing their training.”
For working parents the strike meant many were forced to take the day off work unless they could find relatives to take care of their children for the day, or pay for childcare.
Child minder, Janine Atkins, 43, said that she would be looking after the children of friends who would not be able to take the day off work.
She said: “They’re quite frustrated at the fact that they have to take time off work or struggle to find other people to help out.”
-Parents tell Yorkshire Voice about how they will be affected by the NUT stike-
A Department for Education spokesperson echoed parents’ concerns and condemned the NUTs decision to take strike action.
“Parents will struggle to understand why the NUT is pressing ahead with strikes over the Government’s measures to let heads pay good teachers more.
“They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly.
“Despite this constructive engagement with their concerns, the NUT is taking action that will disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.”