Picket lines formed outside several schools in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge as teachers joined a national strike on Wednesday (February 1st).
Local teachers were on strike to ask the Government for improved funding for schools and a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise.
Our photos show the picket lines in Burnham and Highbridge outside local schools on Wednesday, including at King Alfred School Academy and St Andrew’s School.
It was the first of four planned strike days for Somerset schools with more scheduled on March 2nd, 15th and 16th.
Hannah Packham, the south west regional secretary for the NEU, adds that Somerset schools risk losing staff members over pay concerns amid the cost-of-living crisis.
She said: “Thousands of members across the south west have made clear today that education requires serious attention by government.”
“Our members have taken a stand for a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise, because the profession cannot go on like this. Parents know the consequences of persistent underfunding, both for their school/college and for their child.”
“This strike should not be necessary, and we regret the disruption caused to parents and pupils, but our aims are in the interests of everyone in the education community.”
“The government could not expect strikes to be averted unless it brings forward concrete proposals for increasing pay. Experienced teachers have seen a 23 per cent real-terms pay cut since 2010.”
“Given the current cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation, and, especially felt in the south west with the cost of accommodation, this is clearly an unsustainable situation for our members.”
“The profession risks haemorrhaging talent; the government has missed its own targets for recruitment by an enormous margin and has done so for many years.”
“The government appears to have nothing to say to them.
“NEU members across the South West have taken industrial action today, reluctantly, to stand up for the future of education.”
The action follows the government offering a five per cent pay offer in September 2022, which unions said was “well below the soaring level of inflation” and was “a real terms pay cut.”
The Department for Education, which is responsible for child services and education in England, says it tried to keep as many pupils in classrooms as possible.
It also says the strike action is particularly damaging given the disruption schools faced during the Covid pandemic.
A spokesperson said: “Strike action is highly damaging to children’s education, particularly following the disruption that children have experienced over the past two years. We have been clear we want to support school leaders to do everything they can to keep as many children in school as possible.”