Schoolchildren could be in classes of up to 60 from tomorrow in a bid to continue teaching during upcoming strikes
Schools are preparing for ‘giant lessons’ for up to 60 pupils in a bid to keep the doors open after talks broke down to avert a strike yesterday.
Half of public schools in England and Wales – up to 12,000 – are due to close tomorrow.
Talks between Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and union bosses ended yesterday without a resolution.
Chris McGovern, a former political adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said: ‘Non-striking teachers can find themselves heavily overstretched having to teach large class sizes of 60 children.
Half of public schools in England and Wales – up to 12,000 – are set to close tomorrow
Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, co-general secretary of the NEU, said the education secretary ‘missed an opportunity’ to avoid walkouts.
“The government did not want to engage seriously in the causes of the strike,” they said.
“Real pay cuts and reductions in pay relativities are leading to a recruitment and retention crisis which the Education Secretary so far appears unable to contain.”
The breakdown of talks means at least 120,000 workers will walk out after nine of the 10 union members who voted in the polls in England and Wales called a strike.
Schools are preparing to host ‘giant lessons’ for up to 60 pupils in a bid to keep doors open after talks broke down to avert a strike yesterday
Since the union announced the election result two weeks ago, nearly 40,000 disgruntled teachers and staff have joined the NEU, meaning more staff could go on strike than expected.
Teachers do not have to give notice if they decide to leave, leaving parents and school leaders facing another day of uncertainty.
The DfE has urged chiefs to prioritize vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers by bringing in volunteers where necessary.
They are also likely to hold activity days, rather than normal classes, in a bid to keep schools open.
Staff at Oasis Academy Hadley in Enfield, north London, will be allowed to bring their youngsters to school if theirs is closed to ensure the academy remains open.
Head teacher Zoe Thompson said: ‘Teachers are parents too, and their children are going to be affected and so in order to maximize the arrival of our staff, we are also allowing them to bring their children as well.
“We have some of our children who are going to have to be at home.
“I don’t know if I will have enough teachers to keep everyone there safely.”
Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust, which has 52 schools and educates more than 31,000 students, said schools have been forced to get “creative” with class sizes in a bid to stay open.
Mr Chalke said: ‘The role of a school is not just to sit a child at a desk in a classroom.
“The role of a school is to provide that child with social and emotional content and support.
“And so if you have kids and they’re playing football, or they’re watching a movie, or they’re watching a play, or they’re doing group games and activities, or they’re just sitting there with youth workers, or they’re just sitting in an extended lunch, all of those things are good and important.