Striking teachers were marching through Manchester today as hundreds of schools closed across the region.
Avis Gilmore, north west organiser for the teachers' NUT union, stressed that the action was not directed at headteachers or individual schools.
'Our dispute is not with particular schools, but with the secretary of state for education,' she said. 'Parents and pupils are supportive of us and most believe that we deserve a fair salary.'
In Rochdale, striking primary school teacher Nick Wigmore said his family were now struggling to pay for the cost of living.
'The pay offer the government is offering just adds more pressure because it will mean a loss in real terms of about £1,000 a year compared to inflation,' he said.
Schools were closed across Merseyside today as teachers walked out. Over 90 percent of schools in the city are closed or partially closed.
Merseyside’s NUT executive member Julie Lyon-Taylor said up to 1,000 teachers were out on the picket line. She joined placard-waving members outside West Derby's Holly Lodge Girls' College.
'This is not a one-off, but part of a long-term campaign,' she added. Cars driving past blew their horns in support of teachers on the pickets.
Later that morning teachers, lecturers and civil service workers held a 1,500-strong joint march from the Victoria monument to an outdoors rally at St George’s Hall.
Speakers at the rally included a PCS vice president, the NUT's Julie Lyon-Taylor and CWU president Billy Hayes, who paid tribute to Steve Sinnott, NUT's general secretary who died unexpectedly earlier month.
Dan Swain was on the Liverpool march and rally. 'It's a fantastic mood here – everyone is upbeat on a gorgeous sunny day,' he told Socialist Worker. 'There's a very strong presence from all the unions involved in the strike, with banners from NUT, UCU and PCS.'
Mick Mulcahy from Preston, Lancashire, reports, 'A large rally of teachers in the, civil service workers and college lecturers took place Preston city centre this morning. It was addressed by local councillor Michael Lavalette.
'There will be a bigger rally held this afternoon Preston North End football club. The turnout for the protest have been excellent so far, including a really good picket line at Preston College.'
The Preston rally will also be attended by strikers from Blackburn, reports UCU member Phil Webster. 'The strike was strongly supported at Blackburn College,' he told Socialist Worker. 'We had about 30 people on the picket lines and very few members crossed.'
Students in Croxteth in rooftop protest
Yesterday at pupils at Croxteth Comprehensive in Merseyside climbed on their school roof and refused to set foot in class after learning that two teachers had been made redundant.
About 250 children protested after learning two teachers had lost their jobs in budget cuts. Students chanted the names of the teachers and called for the school not to sack them.
A couple made it on to the roof. One sixth-former said, 'The reason we're doing it is that they are our favourite teachers. They should not be losing their jobs as they are so friendly and approachable.'