Teachers rallied in London and Nottingham last Saturday in the run-up to regional strikes next month to defend pay, pensions, conditions and education.
The NUT and NASUWT unions organised the rallies. Around 400 rallied in London and 250 in Nottingham. Teachers were confident about the upcoming walkouts.
Karen Russell is a primary school teacher in Hounslow, west London. She told Socialist Worker, “We’ve got a lot of young teachers at my school and they’re really up for the action.
“I’m surprised because they’ve only been teaching for a week and a half. I’m optimistic that we’ll have a strong strike.”
Robert Juritz is a special needs teacher in the NUT. “I really hope people will get mobilised,” he said. “Strikes are the only thing this government will listen to.”
Teachers haven’t swallowed the myth that their action is unpopular.
Robert said, “Some teachers worry that strikes will give them a bad name. But most parents are supportive of teachers taking action to defend education.”
NASUWT member Antoinette added that there had been “tremendous support” from parents and governors for previous strikes.
Union leaders, councillors, parents and students addressed the rally. Many condemned Tory education secretary Michael Gove’s attacks on the curriculum.
One sixth form student from Tower Hamlets said higher education was a way out of poverty. “But now it seems our dreams are too expensive,” she said.
Teachers in Yorkshire, the Midlands and Eastern regions will walk out on 1 October. Those in London, the North East, South East and South West will follow on 17 October.
Unions also plan a one-day national strike in November.
Sally Kincaid, divisional secretary for Wakefield & District NUT, said preparations for the strikes are well underway.
“Union reps are organising to leaflet local estates in lots of areas,” she said. “We are holding a joint public meeting for parents at a primary school next to Wakefield Hospital.
“The union rep there has agreed to circulate details for Unison members.”
The strikes will have a big impact—and are a chance for other unions in dispute to take action at the same time.