Teachers rallied in Newcastle on a day of strikes that closed more than 100 North East schools and saw classes cancelled at scores more.
Hundreds of National Union of Teachers members gathered at Grey’s Monument to express their displeasure at the Government’s plans for educators’ pay, pensions and conditions.
“I think teachers’ morale is at an all-time low at the moment,” said RE teacher Chris McHugh, of St Robert of Newminster school in Washington, County Durham.
“There is such pressure on them with long working hours and the unsustainable educational policies brought in by government.”
Teachers, backed by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Unison and University and College Union – but noticeably not other teaching unions – waved flags and listened to speeches attacking Education Secretary Michael Gove. “We know feelings are mixed about the strike,” said maths and ICT teacher Alex Marshall, 36, who works at Heaton Manor School in Newcastle. “A lot of people are very sympathetic but I know there are also others who are disgruntled about the inconvenience the strike has caused. But what we hope is that people can see the bigger picture and that we are not doing this lightly.” The strike is over teachers’ retirement age which is set to be increased to 68, longer hours and increased pension contributions.