UK & World News
Teachers To Stage New Strikes Over Pay Row
Teachers are planning a fresh round of strikes in October in a move that will affect hundreds of schools.
Two teaching unions have announced their members will walk out in eight areas of England next month in a long-running row over pay, pensions and workload.
A national walkout is likely to follow before Christmas.
The new strikes, on two days in October, are the latest move in the campaign by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT over Government education reforms.
The Government has condemned the unions' rolling campaign of walkouts and said it is disruptive to pupils' education.
NUT and NASUWT members in the East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside and the Eastern region will take part in a walkout on October 1.
Those in the North East, London, the South East and the South West will strike on October 17.
Teachers are "angry, frustrated and concerned" about the Government's reforms, the unions said.
No strike dates have been announced for Wales because the Welsh government has sought to engage with teachers over the key issues, the NUT and NASUWT added.
Education Secretary Michael Gove wrote to both unions in March to say he was willing to meet them to discuss their dispute, but also insisted that the "direction of travel" on both their key issues was "fixed".
Under the Government's reforms, due to come into effect from this autumn, teachers' pay will be linked to performance in the classroom - with schools setting salaries rather than following a national framework.
Changes have also been made to public sector pensions.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "Even though at the beginning of the academic year the last thing teachers want to be doing is contemplating strike action, there is no choice this year other than to move in that direction, given the brick wall they are facing from Education Secretary Michael Gove."
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates added: "This is not a reckless rush to strike action. We have been trying to engage with Mr Gove since he came to office.
"No one wants to be disrupting children's education. Our experience is parents understand that if you attack teachers' pay and conditions you are putting at risk children's education."
The unions accused Mr Gove of "megaphone diplomacy", using public platforms to denounce them, and industrial action rather than engaging to discuss the issues.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which historically does not take part in industrial action, said it shared the organisations' "frustration".
General Secretary Brian Lightman said: "While ASCL and the teacher unions have different views on the best way to resolve disputes with the Government, we all are united in campaigning for the fairest working conditions and remuneration for teachers and school leaders."
In a speech in central London, Mr Gove hit out at the unions and accused them of undermining the teaching profession by suggesting it was in crisis.
He acknowledged that the speed of his reforms and "occasionally the style with which I have made my case" had sparked accusations that he was trying to criticise teachers.
But he insisted "nothing could be further from the truth" and that he was battling to defend the industry from "critics and cynics".
He said: "The picture these union leaders paint is of a profession which no-one rational would wish to join - a profession which is unattractive, unrewarding and unfulfilling.
"The truth, however, is very different - teaching, as a profession, has never been more attractive, more popular or more rewarding."
A Department for Education spokesman added: "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."