Brent teachers strike and march on Parliament

Teachers strike against education funding cuts and pay and conditions. Picture: Polly Hancock

Teachers strike against education funding cuts and pay and conditions. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

From Broadcasting House to Parliament Square, they marched. Thousands of striking teachers waved colourful banners and sang loudly: “no ifs, no buts, no education cuts”.

The teachers' march on Tuesday (Picture: Polly Hancock)

The teachers' march on Tuesday (Picture: Polly Hancock) - Credit: Archant

Tuesday’s walk out over education funding and teachers’ pay and conditions forced a majority of schools in Brent to close in full or in part.

Picket lines were formed outside some of the closed schools, before throngs joined the thousands marching through central London with their local NUT branches under large fabric flags.

The NUT said its main reason for calling industrial action was over what it called the “worst cuts in funding since the 1970s”.

Also a concern is the government’s plans to turn more schools into academies.

One Brent academy teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The way they want all schools to be academies is the same as with the hospitals – they want to privatise them.

“They just don’t know what they’re doing in government. “They put so much pressure on schools and on staff, and that puts pressure on the children. The parents feel it too.”

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The NUT and the Institute of Fiscal Studies have forecast that schools will see an 8 per cent real terms cut to spending per pupil by 2020 due to the redistribution of funding set out in the new Education For All government bill.

It claims the cuts would lead to fewer creative subject choices for children, larger class sizes of about 35 pupils, fewer teachers and support staff, and a lack of pay progression for teachers.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has disputed that schools will see a real terms cut, calling the strike “unnecessary and harmful”.

She argues that funding has never been higher, with education spending at £40billion.

But the NUT say that while national funding levels have been maintained, schools will see a real terms cut due to inflation, higher National Insurance costs and pensions contributions.

In addition to worries about funding, excessive teachers’ workloads and pay were also highlighted as concerns.

Some questioned the NUT’s mandate for holding a strike after it was revealed that only 24 per cent of members voted in the ballot. Of those who did vote, nearly 92 per cent supported industrial action.