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Hundreds of teachers march as strike hits 148 schools + Audio
SCHOOLS across the county were shut as 500 teachers took to Oxford’s streets to protest against changes to the education system.
Almost 150 of the county’s schools were closed or partially closed yesterday as teachers from the NUT and NASWUT unions went on strike.
After hearing speeches from teachers and parents, they marched from Bonn Square along Queen Street, into Cornmarket, and then down St Michael’s Street, chanting “Michael Gove it’s time to go”.
- Teachers speak on why they went on strike
Many passers-by, including a number of teenagers off school because of the strike, stopped to watch and take pictures of the march, with some people waving in support from nearby shops and businesses.
Teachers across the South East were on strike over pay, pensions and work conditions.
Kate Douglas who has two children at William Fletcher Primary School in Yarnton and The Marlborough School in Woodstock was in support of the strike.
She addressed the crowd, saying: “I don’t want to see teachers compete against each other to get high exam results at the expense of a rounded education for my kids.
“I don’t want to see drama, art, music, DT (design and technology) cut. These are the things that make my kids enjoy school.”
County teachers were also concerned over plans that would see them working until they were 68.
Emma Garden, from Cheney School, Headington, said: “I have been teaching for 20 years and I have never been so angry about the decisions that are being made.”
West Oxford Community Primary teacher Matt Cuttle said: “I am not going to be able to do this job well at that age.
“Teaching is not a young person’s job. You need experience, but you also need energy.”
Deb Williams, a secondary school teacher in Witney, added: “Teaching as a profession is being destroyed.”
Clair Cross, a teacher at Bayards Hill Primary School in Oxford, said: “I work in early years education and I want to put out the message that Michael Gove is making the early years education academic and squeezing out free play time. What I find is that children are getting more tired because of that.”
NUT local secretary Gawain Little said: “We are really pleased with the turnout.
“It shows the strength of feeling from teachers and that they care passionately about education.”
Some Oxfordshire teachers travelled to London to take part in a rally.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The NUT and NASUWT have tried to create as much disruption for pupils and parents today as possible.
“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 per cent either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all.”
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