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Teachers' strike demo takes place in Bristol
3:15pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
Teachers Teresa Martin and Pete Smith, both from Crowdys Hill school, hold a sign as teachers listen to speeches after marching through Bristol City Centre as part of a campaign of regional strikes involving the NUT and NASUWT teaching unions
TEACHERS from Swindon and the south west have taken part in a demonstration in Bristol as part of the strike action taken today.
Hundreds of thousands of pupils across the country faced disruption to lessons today, with some schools forced to close entirely as teachers took part in the latest wave of strikes.
Teachers are taking part in the one-day walkout, according to union leaders, in the latest stage of industrial action over pay, pensions and conditions.
The government said that just over a quarter of schools in the four English regions hit by the strike had been forced to shut their doors, as it condemned the action.
Peter Smith, of an NUT representative from Swindon who was at the rally, said: “The turnout has been huge. It shows the level of support from teachers for the action.
“We have also had a great deal of support from members of the public and passers-by.
“Swindon has been well represented here today with a lot of us travelling down together from a number of schools this morning. I also think many others came by themselves as well.
“I just hope the government looks at this level of support, sees sense and starts negotiations.”
Members of the NASUWT, along with the National Union of Teachers, are staging walkouts in the north east and Cumbria, the south west, south east and London.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The NUT and NASUWT have tried to create as much disruption for pupils and parents today as possible.
"In spite of this, thanks to many hard-working teachers and heads, only around a quarter of schools in the targeted regions were closed today.
"It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the Government's measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more.
"In a recent poll, 61 per cent of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70% either opposed thestrikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed tostrike at all.
"All strikes do is disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."
She insisted the government had met with the unions 'frequently' to discuss their concerns, and that they would continue to do so.
Prime Minister David Cameron said responsibility for the walkouts lay with the unions and that he was 'disappointed' they had decided to strike.
"It is very inconvenient for parents, it is not good for pupils' education," he told BBC Sussex radio.
"And when we look at the things they are striking over, pensions and pay, they are things that have been decided independently by well-led reviews."
The unions have said that the dispute focuses on three key issues - pay, pensions and conditions.
They are opposed to Government plans to allow schools to set teachers' salaries, linked to performance in the classroom, and argue that pensions changes will leave their members working longer, paying in more and receiving less when they retire.
They also accuse the Government of attacking their working conditions, including introducing reforms that will allow schools to have longer school days and longer terms.
Plans for a national one-day walkout before Christmas have also been announced by the two unions.
Research published earlier this month revealed that the UK public think teachers should be paid around 15 per cent more than their current salaries, while almost three-quarters were in favour of performance-related pay for teachers.
The findings, part of the Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Status Index, also revealed that the UK was split over the influence unions should have in teachers' pay and conditions.
More than 40 per cent said they had too little influence, and just under 30 per cent said they had too much.
Childcare search website findababysitter.com said it had seen a 77 per cent rise in emergency childcare adverts being posted since Monday afternoon, compared to the same period last week.
Parents are paying out up to £100 for emergency care, the site said, amounting to £1.2 bn in total.
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