TEACHERS are on strike today in a row over the way their school is being run.

Staff at Holt Farm Junior school in Ashingdon Road, Rochford, will walk out at 2.15pm for an hour and then for six whole days in December and January.

The NUT says 12 staff at the school have taken out formal grievances against headteacher Hasan Chawdhry since the summer and four more are pending - a number the union says is “unprecedented” in Essex. Members are demanding the headteacher be suspended.

Jerry Glazier, Essex NUT General Secretary, said they had delayed striking to try and find a resolution.

He said: “NUT members have been left with no alternative but to take strike action over the oppressive management style of the headteacher. Staff concerns began to emerge before Easter of this year. At that time informal attempts were made to resolve the situation but were not successful.

“At this late stage, the union urges the governing body to reconsider its position and agree to the neutral suspension of the headteacher to enable a full and independent investigation of what has been happening to staff at the school. This would result in the union suspending the action planned for next Tuesday.”

David Jenkinson, chair of govenors, sent a letter to parents yesterday explaining the situation.

He said the strike co-incides with the children’s Christmas lunch but the school will be open as normal.

He said: “The governing body does not believe this dispute involves the children and should not affect their education. We are, therefore, trying our hardest to ensure the school remains open on these days albeit with a slightly modified curriculum.

“Tuesday is the day of the children’s Christmas dinner and we had planned for teachers to serve the meals at the tables to make the occasion a little more special. We still intend to hold the lunch and absent teachers will be covered by members of the governing body and parents.”

An Essex County Council spokeswoman said the authority was “disappointed” to hear of the difficulties.

She added: “While the school has been performing poorly, Essex County Council conducted a review of progress this term, which has confirmed there are improvements. Measures had also been put in place to improve staff relationships and restore confidence following an investigation into a number of grievances raised earlier this year. The governors and local authority are disappointed that the NUT balloted their members for industrial action without giving these measures time to have full effect.

“Essex County Council does not support strike action or the disruption that pupils from Holt Farm Junior School will suffer to their education.”