Unions hold school reform rallies in Liverpool and Manchester

Rally for Education
Image caption Teachers, parents and school governors spoke at the Rally for Education in Manchester

Rallies have been held by teaching unions in the north west ahead of planned strike action over government school reforms.

The first in a series of events planned across the country took place in Liverpool and Manchester earlier.

The NASUWT teachers' union and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said a one-day strike is planned in north-west England on 27 June.

The government said parents back its curriculum and pay reforms.

More than 1,000 parents, teachers and school governors attended the first Rallies for Education at Manchester's Midland Hotel and Liverpool's Holiday Inn.

Julie Reid, a teacher attending the Manchester event, said schools should not be turned into academies to "make a profit".

She added: "I'm here today to try to stop the attack on teachers' pay and conditions.

"Deregulation will take away children's rights to have a qualified teacher in the classroom."

Further events will be held in Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle and Leeds in the coming weeks.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: "If the government doesn't listen to the fact that we have got serious issues to be addressed we may have to move to strike action, but no teacher wants that.

"Morale is the lowest I've known it for a long period of time."

The NUT says parents' distrust political interference in schools and the rallies aim to persuade the education secretary to "change course".

Reforms 'give freedom'

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: "Today's rallies give an opportunity for the voices of opposition to be raised. We know there are alternatives.

"[Education Secretary] Michael Gove must now stop, listen and reflect."

The government said parents backed its plans.

A spokesman said: "Our reforms are giving teachers more freedom, increasing choice for parents so every child can go to a good local school, and ensuring we have an education system that matches the world's best.

"We would expect the unions to support these ambitions.

"We think giving schools the freedom to reward good performance is much fairer than current arrangements which see the vast majority of teachers automatically getting a pay rise each year.

"We have met frequently with the NUT and NASUWT to discuss their concerns and will continue to do so."

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