THE majority of Bolton schools will shut if planned strike action by teachers on July 10 goes ahead.
A national walkout agreed by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has been moved to July 10 — a date other unions, including Unison, have earmarked as a day of strike action.
The action will cause major disruption to the majority of schools.
Julia Simpkins, secretary of the Bolton branch of the NUT said talks had begun with Government ministers — but unless they progressed in a meaningful manner teachers would walk out in protest as they “stand up for education”.
This will be the fourth time members of the NUT have gone on strike in a long running row over working conditions, including increasing workloads and pay and pensions.
Ms Simpkins said: “Strike action on this day will mean the majority of the schools will close as other unions will be taking part. We will all be out together.
“This strike can be called off by the Government if there are meaningful talks.”
The NUT says pressure put on the government has led to ministers attending joint union talks, with the promise Education Secretary Michael Gove will attend a future meeting.
Ms Simpkins said the strike was more about children and their education than pay.
She added: “The message to parents is that teachers are taking this action for the education of this country and the education children receive.
“Morale is low in schools.
“We are losing good teachers and headteachers, who are taking early retirement, not because of the children or about teaching but because of Ofsted, observations and the countless new initiatives.”
Ms Simpkins said the Government could make a difference to education simply by reducing class sizes.
Simon Bramwell, headteacher of SS Simon and Jude’s CE Primary in Great Lever, and a member of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Managing a school in a strike situation is far from simple. We would not cover striking colleagues so as a minimum those classes that should be being taught for all or part of the day by striking staff would need to stay at home.
“The difficulty comes when staff do not indicate whether or not they intend to strike, or if the particular school is picketed, whether of not staff will cross picket lines, this creates uncertainty and potential health and safety issues.
“As a headteacher I need to know whether I have enough staff in school to keep the children safe. I know many fellow heads, whilst sympathetic to the general tenor of the action, would want to provide uninterrupted education for the pupils in their charge, however if the majority of your staff are going to be missing there is a balance of risks assessment that needs to be conducted on a school by school basis.
"The other obligation is to our parents, school strike action hits our parents hard as they struggle to arrange last minute child care, we therefore need to give them as much notice as possible which may mean heads making a decision on class or school closures before full facts are known.
“Even if a school does close to children, non striking staff need to attend work and be given other duties.”
He added: "I would always urge any group to try and resolve their differences with the employers, in such a way that it doesn’t impact negatively on children and parents."