Spalding Grammar will close for six days if teachers’ strike goes ahead

Headmaster Steven Wilkinson
Headmaster Steven Wilkinson

Spalding Grammar School will be forced to close for a total of six days if teachers there go ahead with planned strike action, the headmaster has warned.

In a letter emailed to parents yesterday (Wednesday) Steven Wilkinson said the strike would leave him with no option than to shut up shop.

The days the school will close if teachers strike are:

• Wednesday, Feb 24

• Wednesday, March 2

• Thursday, March 3

• Tuesday, March 8

• Wednesday, March 9

• Thursday, March 10

Members of the The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) have informed the school they will strike on six dates, starting next Wednesday.

And the National Union of Teachers has told the school its members will take action on the first three dates.

In total, that amounts to 39 members of staff who may be absent on those days and Mr Wilkinson says he will be forced to close the school because regulations on strike action prevent him from:

• Redeploying non-striking teachers to cover for striking colleagues;

• Knowing in advance exactly which, or how many, members of staff will strike;

• Employing teachers from supply agencies to cover for those on strike.

He says in the email: “Given those restrictions and the potential scale of the absence, and given that I have been informed that those members of the school’s support staff who are members of UNISON will not provide cover for striking teachers, the only viable option, if strike action goes ahead, will be to close the school to all pupils.”

Teachers are planning strike action over a one per cent pay increase recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body, but Mr Wilkinson went on to say: “The school has not withheld any recommended pay rises for teachers.

“The unions believe that a one per cent pay rise should be given to all teachers, although there is no requirement to do so.

“Central Government has not provided extra money to fund such a rise and, although the majority of schools have followed the unions’ wishes, the Governors and I took the decision, for the sake of continued financial solvency, that this school would not.”

He continues: “Let me be clear – this letter is not a notification that the school will be closed on the dates I have provided. It is simply advance warning that it might.

“I do hope to be able to avoid action altogether, but I wanted to give parents as much notice as possible to be able to put contingency arrangements in place, particularly with reference to February 24, given how soon that falls after we return.”

Finally, Mr Wilkinson adds: “It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this position. I shall be meeting with Governors on Monday. I hope to be able to reach a resolution so as to avoid action, and I regret deeply the impact any closure would have, both on the pupils’ education and on those parents who will need to make alternative childcare arrangements.”

Whether the school is closed or not, Year 12 students scheduled to take trial examinations on Wednesday, February 24 will still be expected to attend, as those examinations will be invigilated as normal.