Striking teachers disrupt Northumberland County Council's cabinet meeting with bagpipes following dispute

NASUWT members on a second day of strike action over school closures in the Berwick area. Photo: NASUWT
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)


Striking teachers have demonstrated outside Northumberland County Hall in Morpeth as a row over school strikes continues.

Members of NASUWT at Glendale, Tweedmouth and Berwick middle schools carried out a second day of industrial action over plans to close the three schools. Some strikers even brought bagpipes that were used to disrupt the council's cabinet meeting ahead of a meeting with the local authority's director of education.

The planned closures come as part of a move to a two-tier system of education. The teaching union say the county council has failed to honour pledges around protecting jobs.

John Hall, NASUWT National Executive Member for Northumberland, said: “Teachers at all three schools have been left in limbo, not knowing what the future holds for them and their careers.

“This reorganisation should be an opportunity to strengthen education provision locally, not undermine it by losing dozens of experienced teachers.”

The protest at County Hall followed a second morning on the ticket line for union members following a strike day last week.

The move to two-tier and away from the middle school model comes ahead of a £41 million investment into the Berwick Partnership that the council say will "transform" education in the area for "generations to come". A series of consultations on what education should look like in the area have been carried out in recent years.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, added: “Imposing compulsory redundancies on teachers would represent a huge loss of expertise, experience and talent for current and future cohorts of pupils in the area.

“We believe the council owes it to staff and pupils to pursue other options such as redeployment so that as many jobs can be saved as possible. We have sought at every stage of this process to work with the Council, but due to a lack of progress our members have been left with no option than to move to strike action.

“The council must now listen and work with us on a plan to avoid the compulsory loss of these skilled and dedicated teachers from their local community.”

Responding to the latest strikes, a spokeswoman for the county council said: "We are committed to investing over £41 million in first-class facilities for schools in the Berwick School Partnership and supporting all the current middle school staff to gain permanent positions by September 2026.

“There is significant work underway to recruit the middle school staff in to the new school structures and where needed we will seek redeployment and retraining opportunities. Staff have been consulted throughout this process with 18 meetings and drop in events taking place and which teachers’ unions were invited to attend.

"We continue our positive consultations with unions which have been ongoing for several months and hope that these discussions will provide a positive outcome.”