SCHOOLS across the region closed their doors yesterday as teachers walked out in an industrial dispute.
Some 14 schools in Wrexham were fully closed and one partially closed. In Flintshire 15 schools closed their doors for the day, with 25 more partially closed. In Chester at least nine schools were affected by full or partial closures.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) led the nationwide strike in protest over teachers’ workloads, performance-related pay and changes to pensions.
NUT Wales secretary David Evans said: “Unfortunately teachers across Wales really do feel as if they are left with little alternative.
“In many cases they are not simply fighting for a fair deal for teachers, opposing the unfair pay and pension raids they have faced, but are standing up for the very nature of education services on offer in our communities.
“Changes that have been brought in are making it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the brightest and best to the profession. We are also seeing excellent teachers left demoralised and exhausted.
“The strike is not just about what is best for teachers but what is best for pupils as those two things go very much hand in hand.”
The action has been condemned by the Prime Minister and the Department for Education, which said it would disrupt parents’ lives and damage children’s education.
The action meant many parents having to make last minute childcare arrangements and most had limited sympathy for the striking class heads.
Gemma Torrence, of Wrexham, who had children off school, said: “I’m not against the strike but how come they can strike on a school day? When we want to take our children on holiday in term time to save money, we get a fine.”
Rowena Gleed, whose children go to Ysgol Dinas Bran in Llangollen, said: “I've had to arrange two different lots of childcare.
“I know what teachers are paid and quite frankly it’s not a low paid job.
“Yes they work evenings but they have long holidays which more than evens it out. I too work evenings, unpaid.
“I have to use leave and as much flexi as I can build up to cover the school holidays, training days and now strikes.”
Shelly Williams, of Wrexham, said: “My son has been ill this week so we had arrangements in place already.
“What annoys me is that lately, apparently parents can be fined if children miss school or are late for school, but it’s perfectly ok for teachers to throw a school day out the window and not face any consequences for it.
“I feel that they’ve had their time learning, they have their profession sorted, its time for the children to learn now, that’s their job, and when they do stuff like this they aren’t putting the children first.”
In Flintshire, Lisa Collins, of Queensferry, said: “I’ve had to have time off college due to my children’s class teachers being on strike.”
Stephanie Wilson, of Connah’s Quay, said: “It makes my blood boil.”
Greg Foster, NUT division secretary for Cheshire West and Chester, said: “We’re striking for the workload. Primary schools and secondary teachers work 60 hours a week. That’s 8.5 hours per day and that works out at less than minimum wage.
“We have seen increased amounts we have to pay into the pensions. And then there is pay. We have lost 16 per cent of our salary factoring in inflation and a two year pay freeze.”