'We have no other option': Wigan schools close and teachers head to picket lines in day of strike action
Teachers at schools across Wigan have stepped out of the classrooms and formed picket lines outside as they take part in national strike action.
Members of the National Education Union (NEU) have walked out of schools around the country in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Seven schools in the borough were expected to be fully shut on Wednesday, while there were partial closures at a further 39 schools.
Picket lines were formed outside some schools, where flags and placards were waved and passing drivers sounded their car horns to show their support.
Outside The Deanery High School, teacher Jenny McLoughlin-Settle said: “The reason we are doing this is partly to do with pay – partly to do with the fact that we have faced a real-terms cut in pay which we don’t think reflects the hard work and dedication of the teachers – but also day-to-day, this is an amazing school with the most amazing children and it is devastating to see the impact of the lack of investment from Government on education and our children.
"We see the struggle of the school to provide everything that these students need, just like all schools, and that is what’s pushed us to come out here and take this action, which none of us want to take.
"We are all devastated that we can’t be teaching our lovely children, but we have no other option and that’s why we have come out here on strike.”
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she expected most schools to open on Wednesday, despite the strike.
She told BBC Breakfast: “We did do a survey and we have rung round a lot of schools as well and that told us told us that the majority of schools will be open but some will have restrictions for different cohorts.”
But Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the NEU, said around 85 per cent of schools would be either fully or partially closed.
The action coincides with strikes being held by university lecturers, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards, with some dubbing it “Walk Out Wednesday”.
Wigan Trades Council will hold a rally in Wigan town centre on Wednesday to support the striking workers and oppose Government plans to introduce anti-strike legislation.