Teachers stage one-day strike in defiance of Education Secretary

Thousands of schools close as staff members protest Michael Gove’s refusal to open dialogue on pay, pensions and workload

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The Independent Online

Teachers in 49 local authorities are today staging a one-day strike in opposition to planned government reforms on pay, pension and workload.

At least 2,500 schools are closed or partially closed across the East of England, the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside

The strike is part of continuing action by teaching unions NUT and NASUWT. Unions and teachers hope to draw attention to grievances felt over a set of new reforms set to be put in place by Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Department of Education.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said teachers had been "left with no choice but to demonstrate" after Mr Gove refused to open a meaningful dialogue with concerned teachers.

Ms Keates said many teachers are concerned by planned reforms that will affect their pay, pension and future workload.

One proposed reform will see the age at which teachers are able to receive their pension increase to 66 by 2020, 67 between 2026 and 2029, and 68 between 2044 and 2046. Previously, teachers were given the option to take their pension at the age of 60.

The Department of Education also proposes to introduce a grace in favour system, which would see headmasters given the power to raise or freeze teachers salaries as they saw fit.

Ms Keates said strike action was also a result of the government’s plans to drop PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) qualifications as a pre-requisite for employment in state education.

The NASUWT general secretary said it “should be of major concern to parents” that staff members in schools would no longer require qualified teacher status.

The strike, which is the latest in a series of regional-based walkouts for teachers starting in the North West on 27 June, also follows a two year pay freeze for state school teachers.

The Department of Education called the strike “disappointing”, saying it would cause thousands of parents to take the day off work in order to look after their children.

Ms Keates said teachers had previously tried petitions, lobbies of parliament and rallies on Saturdays  to draw attention to their concerns but had been disappointed by the lack of response from Mr Gove and the Department of Education.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower reiterated the point: “No teacher takes strike action lightly but the intransigence of this Education Secretary has left teachers with no choice.

”We cannot stand by and watch our profession be systematically attacked and undermined. There needs to be a change in the Government's attitude to teachers and education.“

More strikes are expected to take place on 17 October in the North East, South East, South West and London.