A YORK-BASED education campaigner has criticised teachers planning to strike over Government plans to change their pensions.

On Thursday about 41 schools in York could be wholly or partially closed, with 26 remaining open. Across North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire more than 60 schools have so far confirmed they will be closed or partially closed.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers said teachers were taking industrial action against changes which will leave them working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire. But Nick Seaton, who chairs the Campaign for Real Education, said the financial climate meant the strikes could not be justified.

He said: “We think teachers are supposed to be professional people and they should act like professional people. Striking is unlikely to make the Government take much notice and goes against children and parents.

“In this country people are losing their jobs and I think teachers have to take their share of the pain.

“I think changes to their pensions are unfortunate but when this was agreed nobody realised the financial difficulties that were going to crop up… we do not want to get into the same situation as Spain or Greece, or Ireland.”

But Anne Swift, the executive member for the NUT in York and North Yorkshire, said the 2006 pension scheme had been considered affordable by the Audit Commission and said the Government planned to change pensions without a full evaluation.

She added: “Do the public want their children being taught by elderly people who do not have the same energy for the job?”

For up-to-date information about school closures, visit york.gov.uk/schools/closures/, northyorks.gov.uk/schoolclosures or eastriding.gov.uk/cfas/inclusion-services/school-closures/

Who else is to join the action

OTHERS going out on strike on Thursday include:

• the Public Commercial Services Union (PCS), which has 290,000 members, including court and job centre staff, customs and immigration and air traffic controllers.

• the University and College Union, which has 120,000 members, is also striking.

Unison and the National Association of Head Teachers are not joining the strike but have warned they will consider industrial action.