Wales

National teachers' strike: Schools shut across Wales

Teachers' rally
Image caption NUT Cymru says teachers are being asked to work longer and pay more into their pensions

Almost half of schools in Wales have been closed or partially shut after teachers went on strike for the day.

Teachers in the NUT union in Wales and England were protesting against the UK government's changes to pay and pension terms.

Despite the Welsh government having power over education in Wales, pay is controlled by the UK government.

The UK government criticised the strike, saying it caused disruption for children and parents.

More than 13,000 teachers from hundreds of schools across Wales took part in the action.

Some 500 Welsh schools were partially closed and more than 300 completely shut.

While some schools were forced to close completely, most secondary schools were open for pupils studying for their GCSEs and A-levels.

The strike was called after a row over a new performance-related pay structure and tougher pension package planned by the UK government.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said that introducing performance related pay would be a way of raising teaching standards.

The idea is designed to bring automatic pay rises to an end, with schools given the flexibility to offer higher salaries to their best teachers.

But the fear is, with budgets so tight, it would be difficult to reward the best teachers without penalising those who are struggling.

An NUT Cymru rally outside the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday morning attracted up to 300 people.

The union's Wales secretary David Evans, speaking from the rally, told the BBC: "Teachers are being asked to pay more into their pensions and are being asked to work longer.

"So it's pay more, work longer, receive less."

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Media captionDavid Evans, NUT Cymru secretary, says parents understand it is a "fight for education"

Earlier, he had said that nobody could accuse the union of taking strike action lightly, adding previous planned action had been called off twice.

"Unfortunately teachers across Wales really do feel as if they are left with little alternative," he said.

"In many cases they are not simply fighting for a fair deal for teachers, opposing the unfair pay and pension's raids they have faced, but are standing up for the very nature of education services on offer in our communities.

"No teacher wants to strike.

"The individuals doing so will be sacrificing a day's pay, but it is a decision based on securing the long-term sustainability of public education in Wales and the UK."

Image copyright NUT Cymru
Image caption Teachers were taking part in a rally outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay

The other big teaching union, the NASUWT, has walked out alongside the NUT in the last two national strikes but did not strike on Wednesday.

The UK government said the strike action was damaging children's education and was unpopular with parents.

A spokesperson for the UK government's Department of 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.

"They called for talks to avoid industrial action, we agreed to their request, and talks have been taking place weekly.

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