STRIKE UPDATE: Axminster St Mary’s joins list of school closures

NUT says industrial action will go ahead following unsuccessful talks with government over pension reforms

THE LIST of East Devon schools which will close as a result of the teachers’ strike tomorrow

(Thursday) continues to grow.

St Mary’s Roman Catholic School in Axmnster has today said it will have to shut.

In the Axe Valley, Axminster and Colyton primary schools are amongst those that have already decided not to open because of the industrial action.

Mrs Ethelston’s Church of England Primary School at Uplyme and Branscombe Primary School have announced they will also remain closed.

They say they will not have enough staff to manage the safety and health of pupils.

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Other schools may also be affected by the strike, education officials have warned, as the extent of the action will not become fully clear until the day.

This week local headteachers – members of the Axe Valley Learning Community (AVLC) - issued a statement outlining the issues they faced in deciding whether or not to close a school.

It reads: “Firstly, despite the fact that the Secretary of State has written to all schools expressing his view that ‘we all have a strong moral duty to pupils and parents’, a headteacher’s first concern must always be the safety and well-being of pupils and the maintenance of order and discipline.

“If there are insufficient teachers present to fulfil these duties, the head needs to carefully assess the risks and take a decision appropriate to the circumstances.

“Secondly, all heads will have made every effort to find out in advance those members of staff who intend to take industrial action, so that alternative arrangements can be made if necessary.

“However, union members have no obligation to declare their intention in advance and the fact that many have already done so, is a clear tribute to their professionalism.

“Headteachers are very well aware of the inconvenience which a school closure can cause. As always, however, the welfare of pupils will be paramount in each decision.”

Following unsuccessful talks with the Government yesterday (Monday) the National Union of Teachers issued a statement to say the strikes would still go ahead.

It read: “After the conclusion of today’s talks, it is with regret that the NUT is announcing that we have no other option but to go ahead with the planned day of strike action on Thursday 30 June.

“We regret that the Government has still not yet moved from its position on all the key areas of its planned imposition and therefore the NUT needs to demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst our membership.

“There has been no movement from the Government on the central propositions that teachers will have to pay 50 per cent more for their pensions which risks many teachers being forced to leave the pension scheme altogether, work much longer to get a full pension, with any teacher aged 34 or less having to work to 68, and get much less for their pension.”

A spokesman for Devon Education authority said further schools might have to close as a result of the industrial action. An updated list can be viewed on their website at