Thousands turn out for teacher protest rally

Rally NUT Divisional secretary Max Atkins (second from left) leads Wigan's division on their march through Manchester to protest against the Government's education plans

Rally NUT Divisional secretary Max Atkins (second from left) leads Wigan's division on their march through Manchester to protest against the Government's education plans

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WIGAN’S branch of a striking teachers’ union was out in force yesterday to protest against pay, pensions and conditions.

National Union of Teachers (NUT) representative Max Atkins led the borough’s division through the streets of Manchester.

Both the NUT and their counterparts the NASUWT were on strike in the North West with the majority of Wigan’s high schools forced to close their doors to students.

Primary schools, nurseries and colleges were also affected by the industrial action by the two leading unions.

Rallies were organised in Liverpool, Preston and Chester while Mr Atkins said he estimated that 4,000 turned out in Manchester.

He told the Evening Post: “We heard on Wednesday that the government had saved schools from their latest round of cuts but there will still be a seven per cent decrease in funds over the coming years.

“(Education Secretary) Michael Gove is abusing his power, he’s already made up his mind and disregards any sort of consultation process.”

Mr Atkins, who carried a sign with a “Gove-busters” logo, said it was not just teachers who were taking part in the rally.

He added: “I was surprised by how many parents and children joined us, it shows that Mr Gove is alienating himself and we have parents, headteachers and staff on our side. It is supposed to be the department for education not against education.”

Around 2,765 schools in 22 local authorities were affected by the walkout in the North West. The unions plan more regional action in the coming months with a national strike scheduled for later in the year.

A Department of Education spokesman said: “We are very disappointed that the NUT and NASUWT have decided to take strike action, which less than a quarter of teachers actually voted for.”

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “We must send a strong message to Michael Gove.

“We have had enough of his ceaseless denigration of the efforts and achievements of our children. We have had enough of his relentless, unjustified attacks on teachers’ professionalism, on their pay, pensions, conditions of service and jobs.”