TEACHERS across south Warwickshire joined in national strike action.
Members of the National Education Union downed tools on Wednesday February 1 in a bid to secure a fair pay settlement for educators and proper funding for schools.
Almost 24,000 schools across the country were affected by the industrial action in the first of seven planned strikes taking place between now and March.
Thousands of schools were closed for the day while others were partially open for certain year groups and keyworker children.
Staff at the DfE and at Ofsted also took part in the strike action.
In south Warwickshire most schools remained open but with reduced staff numbers and with some classes remote learning.
There were picket lines outside a number of the schools including Southam College and Myton School in Warwick, while there was a huge rally in Bath Street in Leamington for teachers to picket en masse. Strikers were joined by Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU.
Southam College spokesperson James Valentine told the Observer the reasons the school had felt moved to strike.
He said: “If you are a young teacher, at the outset of your career, who sees their future in classroom, and not an office, the prospects look grim. The high levels of professionalism quite rightly demanded of classroom teachers are sadly not matched by the salaries they can earn or the resources made available to them.
“Special needs support assistants are leaving schools for jobs for higher pay, less hours and less stress.”
Teachers in England last went on strike in 2016 when most schools stayed open. A larger scale walkout took place in 2008.
The NEU’s latest strike action was not about a pay rise, say members, but about correcting historic real-terms pay cuts. Teachers have lost 23 per cent in real-terms since 2010, and support staff 27 per cent over the same period.
The average five per cent pay rise for teachers this year is some seven per cent behind inflation.
A NEU spokesperson continued: “In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation, especially considering the recruitment and retention crisis that many schools and colleges will recognise.
“Teachers are leaving the profession in droves, a third gone within five years of qualifying and the government has once again missed its recruitment target for teacher training courses – by 40 per cent in secondary education.
“Reduced budgets in Warwickshire schools are leading to a serious crisis in educational provision for the county’s children with larger class sizes, less money to meet the needs of children with SEND, dilapidated buildings and fewer recources, all leading to severely reduced educational opportunities for our children.
“The consequences of this are clear for parents and children.”
A NEU spokesperson added this was the biggest day of strike action across the country for many, many years but they had been left no alternative.