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Teachers strike today - now Brighton pupils to strike tomorrow
More than 100 Brighton students are due to walk out of school tomorrow in protest against proposed changes to the education system.
The action comes after hundreds of schools shut today with thousands of teachers striking over pay, conditions and pensions.
The striking pupils, largely from Brighton’s Dorothy Stringer and Varndean School, told The Argus they were taking the action over possible changes to the length of the school day and summer holidays.
A spokesman for the students, a year nine pupil from Dorothy Stringer, said: “Socialising with friends after school in the holidays is a big part of growing up and I don’t think that should be taken away from us.
“I already have to get up at 7am and don’t get home until 4.30pm. If our school days are made longer then I’m not going to be home until 6pm or 7pm.
“If the teachers can strike then why can’t we?”
The proposed action was organised through Facebook, with more than 1,100 pupils invited to the private group.
Under the title Strike, the organiser said: “So the Government thinks its OK to take time off our school holidays when we already have to go to school as much as it is.
“If the teachers can strike on Wednesday. Why can’t we?
“So we were thinking that we should go on a strike on Thursday to prove that we have the right to do this like everyone else.”
Although the plan for Thursday is yet to be finalised, students are discussing options of marching on Brighton Town Hall, Churchill Square or simply sitting on the school playing field for the day.”
Both Dorothy Stringer and Varndean School said they were aware of the proposed action but said no students had approached them formally.
A spokeswoman for Dorothy Stringer said: “We can say that no plans are in place to change our school day or the holidays and no students have approached the head or senior management about this.
“Everyone is expected on Thursday and they will be issued with an unauthorised absence if they do not attend.
A spokeswoman for Varndean added: “The school will be open as usual and any pupil off without a valid reason will be marked with an unauthorised absence.”
Students from both Hove Park and Blatchington Mill are also said to be taking part in the action.
Meanwhile hundreds of schools across the county will close today as part of the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) strike over pay, conditions and pensions.
The majority of schools in Brighton and Hove have already confirmed they will close with those remaining open expected to be severely affected.
Dozens more will also be closed or partially closed across East and West Sussex.
Phil Clarke, from the NUT, said: “Parents should direct their understandable frustration at the disruption our strike causes directly at the government.
“By attacking teachers rather than supporting them the Government risks the long term future of quality education in this country. “Pay cuts of 15%, on top of 60 hour weeks and being made to work until 68 make the job increasingly unattractive.
“Already nearly 50% of teachers don’t last five years in the job. We need to retain and develop teachers not drive them out of the profession.
As well as various picket lines there will be marches in Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton and Hove.
In Brighton the main rally will take place at the Brighthelm Centre, North Road, at 11.30am and there is a march at Hove Town Hall at 10.30am.
Paul Shellard, NUT rep, said: “This is not an easy decision for our members to make - we want to make that clear. We feel this action is necessary because the secretary of state is refusing to engage in talks.
“The general reaction from the public has been really good. We have been doing leafleting in Lewes, Hastings and Brighton and they understand and sympathise with the issues.”
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