Thousands of schools close as teachers strike

Thousands of schools across England will close today, as teachers go on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Institutions across the North East, Cumbria, the South West, South East and London will be affected by the strike, organised by the NASUWT and the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

"No teacher has any wish to inconvenience parents or disrupt pupils' education, but this action is not the failure or due to the unreasonableness of teachers," NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates.

"It is the failure and unreasonableness of the secretary of state [Michael Gove], who day-in, day-out is disrupting the education of children and young people through his attacks on the teaching profession."

Union leaders said Gove refused to sit down for discussions, thereby forcing their hand on strike action.

The relationship between the education secretary and the teaching unions has become increasingly poisonous as the two camps engage in pitched battles on a day-to-day basis.

"The government's refusal to engage to resolve the dispute over pay, pensions, job cuts and workload means that they have no alternative other than to demonstrate the seriousness of their concerns," NUT general secretary Christine Blower said.

The strike could see over 10,000 schools shut or sending classes home, with millions of pupils potentially affected.

Unions currently do not know how many teachers will join the walkout, but are expecting the "overwhelming majority" of teachers to take part.

the dispute concerns government plans to hand salary powers to schools so they can be linked to performance.

They are also challenging pension changes, which could see later retirement, with many putting more in the pot only to receive less when they give up work.

There are also concerns around plans to allow schools to stay open later and extend the term.

"All strikes will do is disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession," a Department for Education spokesperson said.

"It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government's measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more.

"In a recent poll, 61% of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70% either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all."

Further strikes are set for October 1st in the East of England, the East Midlands, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

A national walkout is planned for before Christmas.