School strike: Teachers form picket lines across Barking and Dagenham in NUT walkouts

Paul Wallis, left, Chris Sullivan, and Dave Moore make up the picket line at the Sydney Russell Scho

Paul Wallis, left, Chris Sullivan, and Dave Moore make up the picket line at the Sydney Russell School - Credit: Archant

Schools across Barking and Dagenham are being hit by strikes today as teachers walk-out over government changes to pay and pensions, and what they say is “excessive workload and bureaucracy”.

Only five council-run schools are unaffected as members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) protested outside many of their workplaces this morning.

Technology teacher and NUT representative Paul Wallis, 63, formed part of the picket line at the Sydney Russel School before joining others from across the capital in a march through central London.

Although he has worked in education for more than 40 years, he insists classroom conditions are tougher today than they have ever been.

“If [Michael] Gove was willing to just sit down and talk this wouldn’t be happening,” he explained. “All the teaching unions have had enough, but it’s the NUT making the moves.

“The expectations placed upon teachers now are ridiculous and the government-set targets are almost impossible to achieve. At the end of the day there’s only so much schools can do.”

Although Sydney Russel remains partially open, one senior teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, showed her support for the walkout by donating the equivalent of her day’s wages to the union.

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NUT members are protesting the Education Secretary’s bid to introduce performance-related pay and changes to pensions they say will see them pay more, work longer and receive less after retirement.

Catering assistant Alexandra Lopes, 40, of Norton Road, Dagenham, was forced to take an unpaid day off work because she could not get anyone to look after her daughter - a year one pupil at John Perry Primary School.

She said: “I understand why the teachers are striking and it’s fair enough, but it has been stressful for parents.

“I’ve had no other choice but to take a day off and I won’t be getting paid for it.

“It would be nice if schools could lay on other options or bring in people to cover those on strike.”