‘NO education cuts!’ chanted over 11,000 striking teachers, parents and supporters from London and the south east as they marched through central London to a rally in Parliament Square on Tuesday.
The march was one of several marches and rallies across England.
Teachers were angry about school budget and curriculum cuts, workload, academisation and performance-related pay.
The front banner of the London march read ‘Our children’s education – tell Nicky there is another way’.
Homemade placards condemned education secretary Nicky Morgan’s White Paper on Education.
They said ‘Hey Nicky leave our schools alone’ and ‘Down with this sort of thing’ and ‘Don''t make children pay’.
News Line spoke to some of the marchers as they assembled outside the BBC, Portland Place.
Ben Leadbetter from Harris Westminster 6th Form said: ‘I''m protesting against the cuts and workload.
‘Class sizes need to be smaller and that is directly linked to funding.
‘There should be enough time to provide good teaching and appropriate support.
‘To win, we need a coordinated strike of the teaching unions.’
Medway teacher Rose Hockley said: ‘We''re striking against the cuts in school funding.
‘They’ve been making people redundant and are trying to cut down on departments like printing.
‘We work long hours.’
Fellow Medway teacher Harpreet Dhillon added: ‘There’s not enough money for teachers.
‘We don’t get paid enough. We’re paid for 32.5 hours but actually work at least ten hours a day for five days plus weekends.
‘We want to get rid of this government. If the impact of today is not enough, we’ll turn out again.’
Anne-Marie Hickling who lives in Hackney and teaches in Enfield, said: ‘I’m a primary school teacher.
‘I’m on strike against the government’s White Paper on Education, the effect of which is going to incorporate massive cuts in school budgets.
‘In addition, there are the government changes to the curriculum – and the increase in testing of children has not only affected teachers’ workload, it undermines children’s education.
‘It makes teachers feel they have to teach to the test.
‘This stops us teaching the things that are more important to learn.
‘We don’t undertake a strike lightly but this government is not listening.
‘There should be more action and more unions joining in.’
Anne-Marie’s daughter Beth Hickling-Moore is also a teacher.
She told News Line: ‘Hours are getting ridiculous. There’s more box-ticking and that’s completely unbeneficial to the children.
‘It detracts from the lesson, from what’s important.
‘We want more preparation time and smaller classes. We want less teaching to the exam.
‘I''m against performance-related pay. The workload is horrendous, new teachers last on average five years.
‘There will have to be more strikes with all the unions taking part.’
Flo Brockway said: ‘This is my first march. I''ve only been teaching three years and I really feel like I’m burning out.
‘There has to be a change, or good teachers will leave the profession and that’s very bad for children.’
Stratford, east London teacher Joseph King said: ‘I’m against the privatisation of schools and the education system, as well as the sale of public assets.
‘Primarily there is less accountability with academies and free schools.
‘It’s a way of fragmenting education, and there’s no evidence that academisation works.
‘Pay and conditions can be changed at short notice.
‘Friends who work in academies are unhappy. Their conditions are worse.
‘Academies are running schools like businesses to the detriment of education.
‘There needs to be more action. There should be a joint unions strike, not just the NUT.’
Would-be teacher Jacob Jarvis said: ‘Next year I start my teaching degree, I’m supporting the teachers.
‘There’s going to be an increase in the number of children but a decrease in teachers for subjects such as arts and crafts.
‘So the individual needs of children won’t be met – that’s why I’m supporting the strike.’
Southwest London supply teacher Bonnie Craven said: ‘I’m sick of what the government are doing to our children – the relentless testing, budget squeezes and privatisation of schools through academies.
‘I’m angry at the removal of fun and creativity from the curriculum.
‘If there is not a change, sadly I will be one of the thousands of teachers leaving the profession.
‘What is happening is not what I trained for.
‘It feels like they are using schools as free childcare provision rather than enriching the lives and opportunities or our children.’
Addressing the Parliament Square rally to big applause junior doctor Aislinn Macklin-Doherty declared: ‘Junior doctors have voted NO to the contract, there will be more action.
‘I would like to congratulate everyone here who has the courage to stand up for education.
‘Nicky Morgan has caused an absolute disaster with the SATs results.
‘She has been failing the education system just like Jeremy Hunt did at the NHS when he was appointed.
‘I''m here to say we will stand up.
‘I have learned this country is in a serious crisis. We are in the biggest political, economic and social crisis for a hundred years.
‘But there are people like you, union leaders and Jeremy Corbyn.
‘Everyone has been paying for the crisis of the banks – it has got to stop.
‘All public services should get together.’
Paulina Blackstock of John Rowan school, said: ‘Our school faced a £448,000 deficit and we were told unless unless we agreed cuts and redundancies it would go under.
‘We launched a campaign that said NO to job cuts no to restructuring.
‘We won back our school.
‘The White Paper means annihilation of our jobs and conditions.
‘We refuse to take part in this exam factory, we’re saying no to an agenda that’s squeezing the life out of our communities.
‘The White Paper is a threat to all public services.
‘We have one message for Nicky Morgan – Enough is enough!’