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Thousands off school as teachers strike

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Thousands of schoolchildren had a day off school yesterday as teachers took part in a national strike.

At least 100 schools across the county were closed and many more operated a skeleton service as members of the National Union of Teachers protested over pay and conditions as well as changes to their pensions.

Several hundred teachers and supporters marched through Preston city centre before congregating for a mass rally in the Flag Market, gathering support from shoppers and passers-by along the way.

The crowds heard from variety of speakers, from NUT regional officer Avis Gilmore and national executive member Simon Jones to young teachers and representatives from other trades unions.

The union said the strike was a “last resort” saying attempts to discuss issues, ranging from the use of unqualified teachers in classrooms to the new curriculum with Education Secretary Michael Gove fell on deaf ears.

Sam Ud-din, divisional secretary of Lancashire NUT said: “ The event went really really well.

“We were very happy with the turn out.

The majority of schools were affected. We had a lot of support on the street.”

Prior to the strike the Department for Education said: “Parents will struggle to understand why the NUT is pressing ahead with strikes over the Government’s measures to let heads pay good teachers more.

“Despite this constructive engagement with their concerns, the NUT is taking action that will disrupt parents’ lives, hold back children’s education and damage the reputation of the profession.”

County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “In the main, schools manage themselves, so headteachers must decide how to deal with the strike, based on the particular circumstances of their individual schools.”

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