SCHOOLS in south Essex could face massive disruption next week as part of a national strike by a teachers’ union.
The National Union of Teachers is calling on its members at all schools and sixth form colleges to take action on Wednesday.
It has warned the majority of schools across the area will face disruption, but it is not yet clear howmany schools will close.
Parents face an anxious wait over whether or not to arrange childcare.
Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex teaching union, said: “My experience tells me there will be a large number of schools that will be closed and a large number partly closed.
“In Southend, an absolute majority of teaching staff are members. It’s slightly less across the rest of Essex.”
Mr Glazier added: “The public should know this is a dispute with the secretary of state, over three main areas rather than with a local education authority.
“Our main concerns are the attacks on teachers’ pensions.
We’re still in dispute over pay levels and the workloads on teachers mean they have to work, on average, 55 hours a week in term time in secondary schools and 60-hour weeks in primary schools.”
Nicola Hartley, 49, of the Grand Drive, Leigh, has five children, four of whom attend different schools and colleges in Leigh, Rochford and Benfleet.
She said she had been told two would be open and two closed.
She said: “It isn’t inconvenient for me as I don’t work, but even if it was, I support people’s right to withdraw their labour over pay and conditions and I think headteachers should support their teachers too.”
Sharon Archer’s daughter is in Year 4 at St Margaret’s Church of England School, in Bowers Gifford.
Mrs Archer, 43, of Highland Road, Bowers Gifford, said: “I would expect it to be open and would be disappointed if I were to find out at this late stage the school was closing.
“The school operates an efficient ‘parent mail’ service where we get notifications immediately and I would like to think we would have been contacted with only a week to go.”
Lisa Harrington who has a child at Briscoe Primary School and Nursery, in Pitsea said she didn’t know whether the school would be affected.
Many schools have already announced whether they will open or not.
At King John School in Shipwrights Drive, Thundersley, only Years 11, 12 and 13 will be able to attend lessons.
Palmer’s Sixth Form College in Chadwell Road, Grays, will be shut for lessons, but students can use the library.
Westcliff High School for Boys expects to be fully open, while the De La Salle school, Basildon says it’s too early to say.
South Benfleet Primary School, in the High Road, will have no disruption, but Thundersley Primary School will have a number of classes interrupted.
Other schools are expected to inform parents soon.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Parents will struggle to understand why the union is pressing ahead with strikes over the Government’s measures to let heads pay good teachers more.
“Despite constructive engagement with their concerns, the union is taking action that will disrupt parents' lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.