Schools in the region are set to be hit by a teachers’ strike in a pay row.
If it goes ahead it will be the third national strike since the NUT balloted members in 2011, but more recently it called off action for talks.
Hundreds of schools closed their doors to children as teachers walked out in October and the teachers’ union said it expected the vast majority of its members to take strike action on March 26, meaning most schools in the region will close.
The Government said the action would damage children’s education and would be unpopular with parents. Its reforms are based on pushing up standards across the country, with the North East having been singled out for not doing enough to help children.
But the NUT’s regional secretary Mike McDonald said the union has “had enough” of education secretary Michael Gove’s changes to education in the last four years.
“Teachers never take strike action lightly and regret the impact it will have on students and parents,” he said. “We know that head teachers are generally supportive of the strike action, because it is not aimed at them, it is about defending the state education system for the benefit of children today and in the future.
“Recently Mr Gove’s attempts to further attack teachers’ conditions and pay were rejected by the School Teachers’ Review Body.
“This shows the huge displays of anger shown by NUT members in the North East when they took strike action in October have not gone unnoticed.
“But this significant victory for common sense does not improve the current working lives of teachers. Thousands of good teachers are giving up because of the intolerable workload pressures placed upon them and Mr Gove’s constant denigration of them as professionals, so our campaign must continue.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: “Michael Gove’s persistent refusals to address our ongoing dispute over pay, pensions and conditions of service, is unnecessary and deeply damaging.
We cancelled the strike planned for November and postponed action in February. We have indicated we will meet with Michael Gove anywhere, any time to seek to resolve the disputes in the interest of the education service.
“The strike action can of course be called off. For this to happen, the Secretary of State needs to give reassurances that he will not go ahead with any changes which worsen teachers’ working conditions.
“The responsibility for this situation lies fairly and squarely at the door of this intransigent education secretary. His policies are losing the coalition parties votes.
“It is time he changed his attitude and listened to the genuine concerns of teachers.”