Glasgow and Edinburgh schools to close as teachers strike over pay

Primary, secondary and additional support learning schools will be shut in Scotland's two largest cities next Thursday.

Glasgow and Edinburgh schools to close as teachers strike over pay iStock

All primary and secondary schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh will close next Thursday due to teachers taking strike action over pay.

The cities join other local authorities confirming school closures because of walk outs.

Additional support for learning (ASL) establishments will also close, Glasgow City Council confirmed in a letter to parents on Wednesday.

Standalone nurseries will remain open but nursery classes in primary schools will be closed.

Edinburgh City Council also confirmed in a letter to parents on Wednesday that all schools in the capital will be closed next Thursday.

The strike action on November 24 comes after members of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, voted overwhelmingly to back action.

Some 96% of those who voted – on a turnout of 71% – backed strike action, after a 5% pay rise was rejected earlier this year.

Douglas Hutchison, the executive director of education at Glasgow City Council, wrote to parents on Wednesday to explain that the council has been left with no option due to the number of teachers who will be on strike.

Mr Hutchison apologised for the impact the closures will have on families and said there would be no provision for online learning in secondary schools because the local authority has no way of knowing in advance which teachers will be in schools.

He wrote in his letter: “I am sorry that learning is being disrupted and you will have to make alternative arrangements for childcare because of this announcement.

“I hope you will understand that we have been left with no alternative but to close our schools and we will post any updates on the council’s normal communication channels.

“Our intention is to provide all families entitled to free school meals with a direct payment to their bank accounts to cover the day’s action and we will post updated information on the council’s website over the next few days.

“The payment may be added to a payment that is due in the near future, rather than as a one off for the strike day.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Joan Griffiths, the education, children and families convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said the planned strike action had left the local authority “with no choice”.

She said: “Our top priority will always be our young people’s education but the Scottish Government and COSLA must act now and get round the table immediately with the unions to come up with a deal that avoids these potential strikes.

“They waited far too long when it came to resolving the bin strikes in the summer and it caused untold disruption across Edinburgh and other cities in Scotland.

“Our young people have already missed enough time in the schools through the pandemic without having to suffer more lost learning away from the classroom. For the sake of our children’s education the Scottish Government and Cosla must get this sorted as a priority.”

Union bosses said the decision to strike “had not been taken lightly” and urged the Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) to return to the negotiating table.

But EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley called on staff “in all of Scotland’s schools” to strike on November 24, in what will be the first action of its kind over pay in almost 40 years.

She said: “We hoped not to get to this point, and have given local authorities and the Scottish Government ample time to come up with a fair pay offer.

Glasgow is not the only local authority to have confirmed school closures.

Aberdeenshire Council said it “will not be possible for us to safely open any of our schools” during next Thursday’s strike action. Early learning settings and school lets will remain open as usual.

East Dunbartonshire Council, which covers Bearsden, Milngavie, Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs, also confirmed that all primary, secondary and ASL schools will be closed to pupils on November 24.

Aberdeen City Council said the strike was likely to “significantly reduce the number of headteachers, depute headteachers, principal teachers and classroom teachers available at Aberdeen schools that day”.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: “The EIS and AHDS teaching unions have called an initial national day of strike action in pursuit of their pay claim on 24 November, 2022.

“School leadership teams are currently working through the implications and will update parents and guardians as soon as assessments are completed.

“Initial work has indicated that disruption is highly likely should the strike action go ahead and the provision of education is likely to be significantly compromised, with the potential for some school closures.”

STV News has contacted all of Scotland’s local authorities about their plans for schools during the strike action, with many councils yet to announce their plans.

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