PARENTS have described school closures as a "cruel blow" for pupils as teachers walk out of class during a second round of strikes over pay and conditions.

Families are being affected financially by industrial action, according to one parents' group, while children with additional support needs are bearing the brunt of school closures alongside older pupils suffering disruption to prelim exams.

Schools across Scotland will shut today and tomorrow as members of the EIS, NASUWT and AHDS unions form picket lines while a third planned walk-out will see 24-hour actions in different local authorities for 16 consecutive days. 

This follows strike action last month.

Leanne McGuire, chair of Glasgow City Parents Group, said this time around the organisation is noticing increased frustration from parents, directed at the Scottish Government and Cosla for being unable to come to a resolution before now.

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Ms McGuire said: "One day before Christmas could easily be overlooked as ‘one day’ but we’ve heard from many parents concerned about what arrangements they will need to make for two days, maybe three if you have children across primary and secondary sectors.

"We also need to remember ASL pupils generally like routine and when that routine is disrupted it's not as easy for the parent to explain why and it's easily accepted by the pupil.

"These strike days can be quite distressing for ASL pupils and their families.

"There is a lot of anxiety from parents about senior pupils who are sitting their prelims and the disruption it will cause, increasing the stress the pupils might currently be feeling."

The sense of uncertainty around when the situation will be resolved, she added, was causing additional worry for families.


Glasgow City Parents Group has also been contacted by parents who run their own businesses and are having to close in order to care for their children when schools closed.

Ms McGuire added: "If you don’t have a network of support around you or you are only paid if you work, there are only so many times that families can make adjustments to accommodate further strike action.

"We’ve also heard from some parents who are self-employed having to close for the day to keep their children home.

"There is an adverse knock-on effect for families who are being impacted financially too by the strikes."

Kim McAllister's two sons attend school in Edinburgh and she has particular concerns about her 11-year-old boy, Finlay.

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Mrs McAllister said: “I’m very sympathetic to the teachers on strike but it’s hitting my family hard.

"My son Finlay is 11 and has learning difficulties.

"He missed two weeks of school before Christmas with the flu so getting back into a school routine has been extra challenging for him; he can’t ask questions so he can get very frustrated and upset which affects his behaviour.

"More disruption to the routine, caused by missing Tuesday, is going to confuse him even more and just prolong the settling back process.

"When his schooling has been so devastatingly disrupted during the pandemic, I feel strongly that the wrong people are bearing the brunt of this dispute."

A spokesperson for Kindred Scotland, an Edinburgh-based advocacy and campaigning charity for families of children with complex needs, said the strike action by teachers will certainly have far greater impact on families of those children. 

She said: "Most families can manage the odd strike day. 

"But families that we support are often exhausted and over-stretched, and loss of a school day can feel like a cruel blow. 

"For many, the whole routine for the week is knocked out, and some are tipped into feeling they cannot cope."

The organisation said that research it conducted during the pandemic found that additional needs schools play a vital role in providing respite, especially when children require a high level of medical intervention throughout the day. 

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The spokesperson added: "Despite the impact on their lives, most parents are sympathetic to the reasons for the strike and aware that dedicated and hard-working school staff need good pay and conditions to maintain standards of care."

Jade Gordon is mother to five-year-old Noah Connell, who attends Kelbourne Park School in Glasgow and has settled well into primary one - but only following an extensive period of support to get him used to the school routine.

While Ms Gordon believes teachers have earned a pay rise and she supports the decision to strike, the mother-of-one says the Scottish Government is overdue ensuring an adequate settlement to end the strikes.

Ms Gordon, from Glasgow, said: "The main impact on Noah is the loss of his routine.

"When the strikes were on last month we had to get up at the usual time and go out, just to ensure that Noah still had a sense

"The transition to primary school and being away five days a week caused really bad separation anxiety for Noah and it took a significant amount of time for him build up to being happy to be picked up and go on the school bus.


"Initially he would scream and be sobbing his heart out; I really don't want him to regress if the disruption continues and be robbed of school time, especially as Covid-19 has already robbed him of so much nursery time."

Noah was born with part of his spine missing, an underdeveloped jaw, cleft palate, small neck and floppy airway, and has a condition known as Pierre Robin sequence, facial abnormalities that cause problems with breathing and mean he cannot swallow.

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Even being caught in the rain could kill him if water entered his mouth so Noah must be accompanied by two adults at all times, in case he needs to be resuscitated.

The schoolboy also has hemifacial microsomia, which means the lower half of one side of his face is underdeveloped, and was the first child in the UK to have a complex procedure where metal scaffolding was screwed into his face to help shift his jaw and let him breathe.

Ms Gordon is a full time carer for her son and gains respite only when he is at school. As Noah's father works, other family members, particularly his grandmother, are called on for help when school is closed.

She added: "My life is dedicated to Noah, and I wouldn't have it any other way, but for working parents the strikes are even more difficult to manage.

"It might be possible to explain to mainstream children what's happening but for ASL children they can become upset, angry and frustrated at the change of routine and this situation is clearly unfair to them."

Single parents are also feeling a particular strain from the strike action, according to charity One Parent Family Scotland.

Lauren, who asked to give her first name only, has been supported by OPFS Edinburgh services. She said: "The strike impact is stressful - particularly as a working single parent.

"Sorting regular childcare is hard but to sort last minute care, while trying to maintain a working schedule feel extra chaotic."

She also said her worry is that the dispute is ongoing and more strikes are around the corner.

Lauren added: "The constant juggling of work and childcare is an additional pressure when things are already tough.

"The concern on top of this is my son's education and attainment.

"He has already missed so much school over the last few years, with covid and lockdowns and home schooling, as did everyone - I worry he is already behind and this will have a further detrimental impact.

"Not the start to the year I wanted for my child."