TEACHERS at a primary school have voted to go on strike for three days next month because of a dispute over a new appraisal policy.

St Helens Council confirmed it has been notified over the proposed industrial action involving members of the NASUWT at Newton-le-Willows Primary School next week.

The dispute could see up to 14 teachers walk out on Tuesday, February 5 and on two successive two days the following week (Tuesday February 12 and Wednesday, February 13).

Local education bosses say they expect “some teachers may take strike action but the school will be open as normal”.

NASUWT officials say its members have rejected the appraisal policy, which means teachers can be observed in the classroom an unlimited amount of times by a headteacher.

According to the union, the limit of the current system is three observations per academic year.

St Helens Council says the policy was reviewed as part of the government’s new School Teacher Appraisal Regulations, to provide more flexibility in the management of teachers.

Mick Burrows, the branch secretary of the NASUWT and a national executive member, believes the “thrust” of the new system has come from Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Burrows said: “Making the observations unlimited would place teachers under too much pressure.

“If a teacher’s face didn’t fit they could end up out of the door. It is currently Newton that is taking action – but this is being rolled out across St Helens and if our other members need our help we will offer it.

“If they (St Helens Council) take certain things out of the policy we will accept it - we are open to sitting down and negotiating.”

Andy Dempsey, director of children and young people’s services at St Helens Council, said: “The vast majority of schools in the borough have accepted that this is a fair and reasonable policy – which will be implemented and monitored by the council to ensure it is fair to all teachers.

“Our teachers carry a great deal of responsibility in preparing our children to be successful and contributing to society.

“The new School Appraisal Policy was developed in consultation with headteachers to meet school needs, and it applies to all school employees.

“It replaces the previous policy, which only applied to teachers, and was prescriptive and restrictive in terms of headteachers’ ability to manage their schools.”