Commenting on today’s strike by National Education Union members in England and Wales, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"Today, teachers in schools and sixth form college in England and Wales and support staff in Wales schools, took strike action in pursuit of a fully-funded, above inflation pay rise. The government has short-changed them for over a decade, with significant real-terms cuts to pay and persistently unfunded rises which schools cannot afford.
"The legacy is all too clear, with schools having to cut services to the bone and a recruitment and retention crisis that is a detriment to children's education every single day. One day's disruption through strike action is dwarfed by the long-term damage caused by government policy on education funding, on workload, and on pay.
"Gillian Keegan, in her continued refusal to take on board the concerns of teachers and support staff, is letting this generation of children down. The Government needs to invest in education. You can't have decent growth in an economy if you don't invest in education, if you don't invest in public services. The Government has got to get to grips with that.
"Our own research tells us that around 85% of schools in England and Wales were affected by our strike action today. This is no cause for celebration, but an indication of the level of anger amongst our members. It is a huge statement from a determined membership who smashed through the Government's thresholds that were only ever designed to prevent strike action happening at all.
"Today, we put the education secretary on notice. She has until our next strike day for England, 28 February, to change her stance. NEU members do not want to go on strike again. They want constructive talks that deal directly with the long-standing concerns they experience in their schools and colleges every day. So that they can get back to doing what they do best, working with pupils in the classroom. However, be in no doubt that our members will do whatever it takes to stand up for education, including further strike action, if Gillian Keegan still fails to step up with concrete and meaningful proposals."