LESSONS were cancelled at Edmonton County School last week as teachers went on strike over a rise in the amount of time they must spend in the classroom.

Around 50 teachers, who are members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), stood outside the educational establishment, in Great Cambridge Road, on Wednesday morning.

The action forced Edmonton County to close its doors for the day.

The strikers are unhappy they are being told to take an extra hour of classes a week. They say this eats up valuable lesson planning time during which teachers are away from the classroom and pupils.

Roger Gow is the NUT representative in Enfield. He was at the strike. Mr Gow said: "It is out of order because it breeches a national agreement. There is not enough non contact time for teachers."

He believes the strike was a success. He said: "I think we got our message across."

The situation has developed as the school's management attempts to provide education in the face of budget pressures and high pupil numbers.

A council spokeswoman called the NUT's statement on the issue "misleading, inaccurate and unhelpful" and claimed the revised workload does not breach any agreement.

She said: "The headteacher and the governors of Edmonton County School have been seeking, in good faith, to find a way to address the concerns of the NUT members, but the decision of the NUT members to strike while negotiations were in progress is premature, and makes it much more difficult to find a solution.

"The NUT statement also alleges that the governors have failed to manage the school budget properly, which is utterly untrue. It is the effective budget management process in place at Edmonton County School that has made clear the need to take steps to address the potential budget shortfall now."

Government arbitration body, The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), is to step in to manage negotiations between the two sides.

But Mr Gow revealed that more industrial action is pencilled in for September if the process fails.