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Scores of Sussex schools to close as teachers down tools
Thousands of teachers are set to go on strike next Wednesday - leaving dozens of schools closed across the county.
Tens of thousands of pupils will get the day off as National Union of Teachers (NUT) members take to the picket line over pay, conditions and pensions.
Twenty-nine schools have already confirmed they are to close with many more expected in the coming days.
In Brighton and Hove it is expected most if not all schools will shut.
Phil Clarke, NUT union rep, described the decision to strike as “tough” for all teachers.
He said: “Teachers dedicate themselves to their jobs and striking is never easy. This action is about not only our own pay and conditions but is also the long term future of education for all children.
“Parents unfortunately put out by this strike should lay blame solely with the government and Michael Gove. He refuses to enter into meaningful talks and leaves us with no choice if we are to make ourselves heard.”
There are an estimated 2,000 members of the NUT in Brighton and Hove alone.
Union rep Phil Clarke told The Argus he expected the “vast majority” to partake in the strike action.
He said: “Last time he held action on this scale I think there was perhaps one school left open in the city.
“I expect it to be much the same this time.”
The NUT has around 3,000 members in East Sussex with around the same number again in West Sussex.
In Brighton and Hove the following have already confirmed they will close: Patcham Infant, Patcham Junior, Stanford Junior, Benfield Primary, Brackenbury Primary, Elm Grove Primary, Saltdean Primary, Woodingdean Primary, St Bartholomew's CoE Primary, Varndean, Longhill, Hove Park, Patcham High, Downs View Special and Homewood College.
St Joseph's RC Primary, St Nicolas CoE Primary, Cottesmore St Mary's RC Primary and Blatchington Mill will be part closed.
Currently just three schools in East Sussex have confirmed they will shut: Blacklands Primary in Hastings, Hamsey Community Primary in Lewes and Shinewater Primary in Eastbourne.
A further three in West Sussex will close: Durrington First School, Fishbourne CofE Primary and Southway Junior in Burgess Hill.
Meanwhile four will be part closed: Birchwood Grove Community Primary in Burgess Hill, Field Place First School in Worthing, Kingslea Primary in Horsham and Sackville School in East Grinstead.
The national strike has been called over what the union describe as excessive workload and bureaucracy, performance related pay issues and changes to pensions.
They say teachers regularly work 60 hour weeks. As a result many “burnout” or simply walk away from the profession.
With regards to performance related pay, they say Michael Gove's plans would see teachers working to better themselves rather than looking to improve their school as a whole.
Changes to pensions has also been a contentious issue with teachers now set to pay more, work longer and receive less when they retire.
Mr Clarke added: “This is not the kind of action we take lightly.
“If the government wants a good education system then they need to start valuing those who make it, the teachers.”
Union members will hold a series of marches across the county on Wednesday.
In Brighton and Hove the main rally will be at the Brighthelm Centre in North Road at 11am.
Dozens more schools are expected to announce they will close in the coming days.
For all the latest closures see www.theargus.co.uk.
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