STROUD’s secondary schools were among the thousands across the country which closed their doors today (October 17) as teachers took strike action over pay, pensions and increased workloads.

Archway, Maidenhill, Marling, Rednock, Stroud High and Thomas Keble were all shut or closed to a majority of their students, while roughly a dozen primary schools in and around Stroud were also forced to close down or partially-shut after staff walked out in protest at proposed Government reforms.

The industrial action was jointly co-ordinated by the NUT and NASUWT teaching unions, whose members object to plans put forward by the education secretary Michael Gove to introduce performance related-pay, raise the retirement age to 68 and reduce the size of their pensions.

Ahead of the strike, John Pemberthy, the NUT’s national executive member for Gloucestershire, said he expected the vast majority of schools in the Stroud area and across the county to participate in the action.

“Although we regret any disruption to parents and pupils we believe that the effects of current policies being ideologically driven by Michael Gove are doing considerable harm to the profession, to schools ability to recruit and retain teachers and to the education service in general,” he said.

But Stroud’s Conservative MP Neil Carmichael said the strike would do nothing to help ongoing negotiations between the unions and the Government.

“Both political parties agree that we need to improve our education system and Michael Gove has been taking action to do this,” he said.

“I think teachers do an excellent job, however, that doesn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t be tackling the current educational problems and ensuring that all children are given a good education.”

Speaking on Monday though, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stroud David Drew expressed sympathy with striking staff.

Mr Drew, himself a former secondary school teacher, said: “Teachers feel so let down by this government at the moment.

“I wish they didn’t have to strike but their terms, conditions and quality of life are being changed and I can understand why they are taking action.”

Members of Stroud Against the Cuts also distributed leaflets today outside some of the schools closed in the Five Valleys explaining why teachers had decided to strike.

James Beecher, one of the leaders of the group, said the dispute between the unions and the Government had reached a point where teachers felt their only option was to take action.