Sammy Wilson in war of words with unions over school open date

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has waded into the row over the re-opening of schools to accuse teaching unions of being “out of step” with teachers and parents

Saturday, 13th June 2020, 10:03 am
DUP MP Sammy Wilson. Picture by Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

The trade union NASUWT, however, branded the East Antrim MP’s comments “absurd”.

The row has erupted after Mr Wilson’s party colleague, Northern Ireland Education Minister Peter Weir, revealed a target date of August 17 for some pupils to return to school.

But teaching unions quickly called for “meaningful consultation” about the plans in a statement issued through the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

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Sammy Wilson has now accused the unions of being “out of step” .

“Teaching unions have every right to speak up for teachers, but they must also keep in mind the duty of schools to provide an education for our children and young people,” he said.

“That must be the focus. The unions are not only out of step with parents but out of step with many teachers who want to see their pupils learning and reaching their potential.”

Mr Wilson added: “For any union to try and exploit legalities to stop teachers and pupils returning to schools in mid-August is reckless and gives little consideration to the pupils’ education and particularly pupils in hard to reach communities.

“One of the greatest duties we have to our children is to ensure they get a good education.”

Responding, NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill said: “Mr Wilson’s comments are absurd.

“Mr Wilson wants to ride roughshod over workers’ contracts. He hasn’t considered the disruption that this will cause to schools who need to work with young people who will be receiving GCSE and A-Level results.

“Holiday periods have already been agreed, principals, teachers and support staff should be allowed to take them.”