Big turnout at teachers stopwork meeting

THE NSW Teachers Federation Hunter branch said yesterday’s stop work was a necessary step to make parents aware of teachers’ anger at proposed changes to state schools.

Hunter organiser Fred Dumbrell said teachers met at 16 Hunter locations, including almost 200 at Souths Leagues Clubs Merewether, for the two-hour stopwork meeting.

He said the turnout was better than during salary negotiations, which was an indication of teachers’ concern about the plan.

Teachers are concerned that giving principals more power over school budgets and staffing is a way to cut school funding and will lead to larger class sizes and reduced high school electives.

They voted in favour of a review of the Local Schools, Local Decisions policy, but did not specify what type of industrial action would be pursued if the government did not co-operate.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the two-hour strike during school hours was ‘‘unbelievable’’.

‘‘We are not going to be held to ransom by the teachers’ federation,’’ he said.

‘‘These reforms are to suit students, not the union.’’

A parents group said while they did not always support such strikes because of the impact on children’s learning, they fully understood the reasons for the action.

‘‘We’d actually been asking for some of the same questions to be answered,’’ P&C federation spokeswoman Rachael Sowden said.

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