UK & World News
Teachers Stage One-Day Strike Over Pay Reform
Thousands of teachers are staging a one-day strike in a bitter dispute over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Tens of thousands of schoolchildren will be affected by the one-day walkout across four English region as schools are fully or partially closed.
The action has been organised by two of England's biggest teaching unions - the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT.
Schools in 49 local authorities in the East of England, the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside are affected.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "Strike action is a last resort. Teachers have been left with no choice but to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the face of their genuine concerns being dismissed and trivialised."
The first regional walkout took place in the North West on June 27, with further strikes expected to take place on October 17 in the North East, South East, South West and London.
Plans for a national one-day walkout before Christmas have also been announced by the two unions.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "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."
The strike comes as Education Secretary Michael Gove is due to address the Tory party conference amid criticism of his reforms by leading academics and children's authors.
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman are among nearly 200 people to say they are "gravely concerned" and call for the changes to be stopped.
In a letter published in The Times, they called on the Government to set up a commission to examine alternatives instead of pressing on with reforms to the curriculum and exam system.
"Competition between children through incessant testing and labelling results is a public sense of failure for the vast majority," they said.
"The drive towards ever-higher attainment in national tests leads inevitably to teaching to the test, which narrows the range of learning experiences. Harmful stress is put on young people, their parents and their teachers.
"These damaging developments must stop. If they go ahead there will be devastating consequences for children's mental health, for future opportunities and, most importantly, for the quality of childhood itself."
They describe demands on teachers as being like a "straitjacket" that will "destroy the educational richness that should be children's birthright".
The unions say they are protesting against a two-year pay freeze for teachers, proposals to make teachers work until they are aged 68, increases in pensions contributions and heavy workloads due to inspections and bureaucracy.
A Department of Education spokesman said: "It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the Government's measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more."
The spokeswoman said a recent poll found that 61% of those questioned backed linking teachers' pay to performance and a majority were opposed to walkouts.
"All strikes will do is disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession," she added.