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Twelve schools shut in Bexley as teachers set to strike

PUBLISHED: 09:19 30 June 2011 | UPDATED: 09:28 30 June 2011

Elysa Alton

Elysa Alton

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A teacher who is set to strike over pension reforms today claims children's education will "drastically suffer" if proposals are pushed through by government as the job will become a less attractive profession.

Bexley Council confirmed that 12 schools are due to close for the whole day with a further 27 affected by the planned walkout over government plans to abolish the final salary pension scheme and replace it with a “career average pay” scheme.

If implemented, teachers will have to pay more into their pension from April next year and any aged 34 or younger will have to work until they are 68.

Bexley National Union of Teachers branch secretary Elysa Alton, 51, teaches English and Humanities at Cleve Park School in Bexley Lane, Sidcup.

She warned: “Teaching will become a less attractive profession and it will ultimately be pupils who suffer.

“I’ve been putting money into my pension for 10 years. I’m going to lose £90,000 to £100,000 over the length of my pensionable life. Increasing the age to which I teach means I won’t live for much longer when I retire.”

Striking teachers belonging to Bexley National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are set march to Central Hall Westminster today at 11am.

Ms Alton, who has taught for 15 years and before that worked in the banking sector, contributes £98 a week into her pension scheme but claims under government plans, she will have to put in another £100 a week and she would have to retire at 66. She added: “I became a teacher knowing that at the end of the career you were getting a good pension. I feel betrayed.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We are clear that a strike will only damage pupils’ learning and inconvenience their busy working parents. The well-being and safety of pupils must remain paramount.”

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