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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 14:52 GMT
Extent of teacher walkout not clear
Family at home
Teachers say their living costs are not being met
There are questions over how many teachers in the south-east of England will back the strike called for next week.

Head teachers are trying to assess the situation, with a view to closing schools for the day.

On Tuesday the National Union of Teachers (NUT) announced that its members in the area covered by the London cost-of-living allowance had voted to walk out for a day.

Click here for a map of the districts affected.

The union says the allowance is not enough to meet the high costs of working in the capital.

But the Department for Education says the number of teachers in favour of a strike amounts to only 13% of London's teachers.

The union balloted about 41,000 members and said 86% were in favour of the one-day strike, which is set for Thursday 14 March.

Less than a third

The education department pointed to the turnout: The percentage of those entitled to vote who took part was 30% - fewer than one in three.

And the education chairman of the main employers' organisation, the Local Government Association, said he thought a lot of teachers would not want to lose a day's pay.

"The strike will close a lot of schools, especially in the poorer boroughs, but the NUT may find that a lot of members choose not to come out because they don't like losing money, and it's a substantial sum of money they will lose," Graham Lane said.

Local authorities expect head teachers to be sounding out staff members on whether they will be on strike.

If heads have significant numbers of NUT members they are likely to implement their emergency procedures for closing the school rather than try to operate partial timetables.

A spokesperson for the NUT made clear that the union does not instruct its members to strike - it "advises" them to do so.

In this case its advice is not to disrupt any lessons which are exam-related.

Teachers should go in to teach a revision class, for instance, she said.

The areas covered by the London weighting allowance:

map of affected areas
  1. Surrey
  2. Berkshire: Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead
  3. Buckinghamshire: South Bucks, Chiltern
  4. Essex: Basildon, Brentwood, Epping Forest, Harlow and Thurrock
  5. Hertfordshire: Broxbourne, Dacorum, East Herts, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers, Watford, Welwyn Hatfield
  6. Kent: Dartford, Sevenoaks
  7. West Sussex: Crawley
  8. Inner and Outer London
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Education Secretary, Estelle Morris
"It is not as if we haven't put extra resources into recruitment and retention"

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Talking PointFORUM
Teachers' strike
NUT head quizzed about London walkout
See also:

05 Mar 02 | Education
Capital's teachers vote for walkout
30 Jan 02 | Education
Teachers' fury over London weighting
06 Dec 00 | Education
Teachers priced out of London
23 Jan 02 | Education
Teachers to get 3.5% pay rise
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