DECISIONS to close schools in Hampshire will be down to individual headteachers, the county council has said.

Responding to the news that teachers in England and Wales will strike over pay on seven dates in February and March, the county council’s executive member for education, Cllr Steve Forster, said: “The Department for Education has provided guidance to the county’s schools on the implications of the potential industrial action.

“I would reiterate that the National Education Union’s dispute is not with the county council but with the government regarding pay.

“Any decisions to close schools will be for individual headteachers and their governing bodies to make and will be based on their ability to open the school safely, and to maintain a full or revised curriculum.”

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The National Education Union (NEU) announced the national strikes are scheduled for February 1, March 15 and 16.

There are several regional dates also planned, with teachers in the south east also striking on March 2, meaning schools in Hampshire will be impacted by four days of strikes in total.

The NEU is the UK’s largest education union and has said the strike will affect 23,400 schools in England and Wales.

Headteachers are expected to take “all reasonable steps” to keep schools open for as many pupils as possible during the strikes, according to the Department for Education guidance issued.

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However, Cllr Forster warned that headteachers may not know ahead of the strike date the impact it will have on their school, meaning parents may not find out until the day whether a school will be shut.

He said: “It should be noted that headteachers may not be in a position to gauge the potential impact of any planned strike action ahead of time, as staff do not have to declare their intention to participate until the day itself.

“Schools will be advised to declare closures using the county council’s emergency closure system.”

A statement issued by Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, said: "We have continually raised our concerns with successive education secretaries about teacher and support staff pay and its funding in schools and colleges, but instead of seeking to resolve the issue they have sat on their hands. It is disappointing that the Government prefers to talk about yet more draconian anti-strike legislation, rather than work with us to address the causes of strike action.

"This is not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts. Teachers have lost 23 per cent in real-terms since 2010, and support staff 27 per cent over the same period. The average five per cent pay rise for teachers this year is some seven per cent behind inflation. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation."