Teachers across England are out on strike today, Tuesday, in a battle against Tory education policies and cuts.
Many schools were closed for the day. The NUT union called the action to demand that the government give guarantees over teachers’ pay and conditions across all schools. It also wants the Tories to scrap plans to slash education funding.
Some London boroughs face cuts of over 20 percent. Teachers are furious at the attacks – and the impact they will have on children.
Sam was picketing at Langdon Park school in Tower Hamlets, east London.
She told Socialist Worker, "I'm angry about the cuts. A lot of children at this school have never been out of the area.
"We used to be able to take them on trips but there's no money now. There's a lack of value given to the service we provide."
Shannon is a special needs teacher at the school. "Cuts to the budget means cuts for children and services they need," she told Socialist Worker.
"We do things like travel training so they can be independent. We can't do that without money - this affects our kids."
"We pride ourselves on being a fully inclusive school," added NUT chair Dawn.
"I don't know how that will continue with the cuts. They will affect support staff and learning mentors - those people who make a real difference in the school."
The school's 30-strong picket line was buoyed by Unison union members at the school who came to show support.
Diane is the Unison rep. "Cuts mean classes will be a lot larger," she told Socialist Worker.
"Teachers will be asked to teach subjects they haven't been trained in. We have to stand together."
Jane, another Unison member, agreed. "It's all about the kids," she told Socialist Worker.
"It's important to stand with teachers today as they're doing this for everyone."
In Cambridge, newly qualified teacher Rachel was picketing at her school.
She told Socialist Worker, "I've spent the last two years training to be able to do this job properly. I paid £9,000 in tuition fees.
"And the government wants to replace me with people with no qualifications."
Rachel said this would harm education - in more ways than one.
"People who don't know the theory or haven't studied child development won't have the ability to challenge whatever the government brings in," she said.
"It's an ideological attack."
NUT members backed the strike by an overwhelming 92 percent in a recent ballot. Teachers are preparing for big rallies and marches across England later today.
Dave, who was picketing at Carlton Community High School in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, said the walkout had a big impact.
"Today's strike is having a bigger impact than we anticipated," he told Socialist Worker.
"The roads are really quiet and lots of schools are closed."
Sally Kincaid, divisional secretary of Wakefield and District NUT, agreed. "It's like a Sunday here it's so quiet," she said.
"It is far, far better than previous strikes."
Delegates at this year’s NUT conference called on the union to call further strikes in the autumn term. The union’s acting general secretary Kevin Courtney has said the union would name further dates – and the ballot was for discontinuous action.
The Unison union also voted for “national action and coordinated strikes in the autumn term” over Tory education cuts at its local government conference last month.
Teachers said it was crucial that the union showed it was serious about the fight and named more strike days.
"I absolutely support more strikes," said Rachel. "This strike is intended to build momentum for the future.
"We are passionate about this. We're not going to be bullied - and we're not backing down."