Southend secondary schools reveal closure plans as teachers set to strike

Strikes - Southend Councillor Laurie Burton <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Strikes - Southend Councillor Laurie Burton (Image: Newsquest)

TWO Southend secondary schools have confirmed plans for a shutdown for most students as striking teachers walk out in a pay row.

Heads at Shoebury High School and Southchurch High School have written to parents urging them to plan ahead for industrial action about pay and teachers’ recruitment and retention.

The strike is being taken by teachers across the country, with thousands set to walk out the classroom on February 1, March 1, 15 and 16.

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Southchurch High School will only open to Year 10 and Year 11 pupils preparing for exams, as well as vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Shoebury High School will only open to 93 Year 11 pupils sitting an exam and Year 13 pupils.

Essex County Council has warned parents that headteachers may not be able to tell them of schools’ arrangements until the morning of each strike day.

In a letter to parents, Southchurch High School interim headteacher, Tracy Airoll, said: “I have completed a thorough risk assessment, the outcome of which is that Southchurch High School will be open for Year 10 and 11 students only, except for vulnerable students and those children of frontline critical workers, on Wednesday, February 1. It is my expectation that students will use the time constructively at home to complete schoolwork during the day.”

Some students in Year 11 at Shoebury High School are due to sit a BTEC exam on February 1 - the first day of strikes.

The school’s letter to parents said: “We have made a decision to close Shoebury High School to Years 7 to 10, Year 11, except those sitting exams) and Year 12 on February 1 and provide remote learning due to the high number of staff who will be unavailable.

“The 93 Year 11 students sitting their BTEC Digital Information Technology exam should be on site. Year 13 students should sign in via main reception.”

Earlier this week, two other south Essex secondary schools also warned they may close during teachers’ strikes.

Westcliff High School for Girls and The Appleton School in South Benfleet both sent out letters to parents warning they may be forced to close due to staff shortages.

Laurie Burton, Labour Southend councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “I think schools are doing the absolute right thing to prioritise the learning of Year 11s and those with exams.

“Many have already been hit by lockdown too.

“I am sure schools will be doing all they can to get pupils in schools and learning during this period.”