Over half of schools were partially closed or closed due to teacher strikes on Wednesday, according to government figures of state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in England.
Some 51.7 per cent of schools were not fully open as teachers began the first day of strike action alongside rail workers and civil servants, data from the Department of Education (DfE) showed.
Some 43.9 per cent of those schools said they were fully open, 42.8 per cent open but restricting attendance, and 8.9 per cent fully closed.
Earlier in the day, education secretary Gillian Keegan said most schools would stay open, while the NEU said it thought 85 per cent of schools would be closed or partially closed.
As public sector workers manned picket lines on the coordinated day of action, thousands marched to Downing Street and gathered for rallies in other towns and cities to protest the Government’s Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
The proposed legislation would require minimum levels of service from ambulance staff, firefighters and railway workers during strikes.
Some 150 universities are also being affected by the strike disruption as lecturers and librarians belonging to the UCU union walk out.
Up to 100,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) are thought to be striking across government departments, Border Force, museums and other government agencies.
Meanwhile, train driver members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are walking out on Wednesday in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, bringing most train services to a grinding halt.
Who is striking today?
07:00 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Teachers, university lecturers, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards in seven trade unions will stop work today, on what has been dubbed ‘walkout Wednesday’.
In total hundreds of thousands of workers are going on coordinated strike in separate disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.
For a full wrap of who is striking, why, and how it is likely to affect you, click here.
‘Walkout Wednesday’ begins
06:41 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Good morning, and welcome to the Standard’s live blog.
Today we’ll be bringing you everything you need to know as train drivers, lecturers, around 200,000 teachers, and around 100,000 civil servants walk out simultaneously in the biggest day of industrial action the UK has seen in a decade.
Follow along for all the latest updates.
NEU targeted by hackers
06:50 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
The National Education Union’s (NEU) has been targeted by hackers this morning.
Up to 200,000 NEU members from around 23,000 schools across England and Wales are expected to take to the picket line on what it describes as an “historic day”.
ALERT: We are sorry to say that we are being targeted by criminals again. We have alerted our security team please do not click on links that are not official NEU websites.
— National Education Union (@NEUnion) February 1, 2023
But the union issued an alert around 6.40am saying: “We are sorry to say that we are being targeted by criminals again. We have alerted our security team please do not click on links that are not official NEU websites.”
Border Force staff pictured beginning their walkout
06:56 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
It may not yet be 7am, but Border Force staff in Hull have already taken to the picket line.
— PCS Union (@pcs_union) February 1, 2023
They are among an estimated 100,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) set to strike across more than 120 government departments and bodies today.
University lecturer says strikes are ‘for the students’ in face of ‘breaking system’
07:21 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
A university lecturer has said she is striking today “for the students” in the face of a “system that is breaking”.
Tens of thousands of members of the University and College Union (UCU) are among workers joining today’s widespread action - walking out over pay, working conditions and pensions cuts.
Anita Naoko Pilgrim, a UCU officer for the Open University where she lectures, said higher education in the UK is being “significantly degraded” by issues such as work conditions and pay, adding that disruption to classes will ultimately benefit students.
“We are on strike for the students, we’re on strike because the system is breaking – their learning is being disrupted, but not by us,” said the 59-year-old, from Cardiff.
“It’s being disrupted because of the broken system that is farming out their teaching and marking to poorly-paid people.
“I tell my daughter ‘don’t become an academic’, and we’re pleased she has chosen a different career pathway because we’re exhausted and 60-hour weeks are very common…I just can’t go on like it really.
“Higher education in the whole of the UK is being significantly degraded… we used to be top of the tree.”
Dr Pilgrim said the striking would stop with a “proper pay offer on the table”.
“We are absolutely fed up, we’re out there on the pickets and we’re not going anywhere until we get this sorted,” she said.
Read more here.
Public services in ‘crisis’ due to ‘years of underinvestment’ - TUC
07:33 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Public services are in “crisis” because of “years of underinvestment and a shortage of staff”, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said this morning.
“The decision to take strike action has been made by hundreds of thousands of workers who are just literally at the end of their tethers,” Paul Nowak told BBC Breakfast.
“We’ve got staffing crises right across our public services.
'I would urge the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to get round the table and talk sensibly about improving the pay of public servants'
Paul Nowak, General Secretary of the TUC, spoke to #BBCBreakfast on the biggest day of strikes since 2011https://t.co/AmjmgxNpfl pic.twitter.com/FXar1Ae7K2
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) February 1, 2023
“The experience of anybody who’s used our hospitals, our schools, tried to take a train in this country is that those servrices are in chaos - they’re in crisis - not because of industrial actions, but because of years of underinvestment and a shortage of staff.
“So Government has to take some action and responsibility and I would urge the prime minister and the chancellor to get round the table and talk sensibly about improving the pay of public servants.”
The Trades Union Congress is a federation representing the majority of trade unions across England and Wales.
Education Secretary ‘disappointed’ teaching strike going ahead
07:41 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she “disappointed” that teachers in England and Wales are striking today.
She told Times Radio she believed industrial action was unnecessary as discussions with the unions were continuing.
“I am disappointed that it has come to this, that the unions have made this decision,” she said. “It is not a last resort. We are still in discussions. Obviously there is a lot of strike action today but this strike did not need to go ahead.”
Ms Keegan said she did not know how many schools would be forced to closed due to the industrial action.
“We are hoping as many schools as possible stay open. We know that head teachers and other school leaders have been working really hard to keep schools open for as many kids as possible,” she said.
Heathrow ‘fully operational’ despite Border Force walkout
07:53 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Heathrow Airport said it is operating as normal with minimal queuing in immigration halls despite today’s strike by Border Force workers.
A spokesperon for the airport said: “Heathrow is fully operational, passengers are flowing through the border smoothly with Border Force and the military contingency providing a good level of service for arriving passengers.
“We are working to support Border Force’s plans to continue the smooth operation of the airport during this period of industrial action.”
Majority of schools expected to open, says Education Sec
07:59 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she expects most schools will open today despite around 200,000 teachers from 23,000 schools expected to strike.
“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,” she told BBC Breakfast.
'What is not realistic is to look at inflation busting pay rises'
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told #BBCBreakfast the Government's priority is to tackle inflation as thousands of teachers in England and Wales take strike actionhttps://t.co/AmjmgxNpfl pic.twitter.com/Mn7ms3IDok
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) February 1, 2023
Ms Keegan said the the country could not afford above-inflation pay awards.
“What is not realistic is for us to be looking at inflation or inflation-busting pay rises. We cannot risk fuelling inflation with inflation-busting pay rises. We have to look after everybody in the economy,” she said.
Pictured: PCS members strike in Westminster
08:22 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) have mounted picket lines outside government offices in central London.
Photos show members holding placards outside departments in Westminster including the Cabinet Office; the Treasury; the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Around 100,000 PCS members are expected to strike today in a long-running dispute, over pay, jobs and conditions - with those taking part working for government departments, Border Force, museums and other government agencies.
— PCS Union (@pcs_union) February 1, 2023
The PCS is seeking a pay rise of 10% after the government paid 2%, which the union complained was well below the soaring rate of inflation.
The union also fears huge job losses and cuts to redundancy terms for those affected.
Whitehall is striking this morning. PCS picket outside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport HQ at 100 Parliament Street #PCSonstrike #1febstrike Photo by @andyaitchison pic.twitter.com/WZ6eRdHgLG
— PCS Union (@pcs_union) February 1, 2023
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan arrives at Euston picket line
08:42 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
GS Mick Whelan and AGS Simon Weller are at Euston this morning speaking to the media about why we’re taking action today pic.twitter.com/G86fRncT0j
— ASLEF (@ASLEFunion) February 1, 2023
85% of schools to fully or partly close today, says NEU
08:49 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Around 85 per cent of schools will be either fully or partially closed by today’s strike action, the general secretary of the National Education Union has said.
Speaking outside Bishop Thomas Grant School in Streatham, south London, Dr Mary Bousted told the BBC: “About 85 per cent of schools will be affected – either fully closed or partially closed – today.”
It comes after Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she expects most schools will open today, although some will have restrictions in place.
Around 200,000 teachers from 23,000 schools are expected to walk out.
Dr Bousted said striking teachers have received “many” messages of support from parents.
“We are very sorry that parents have been so inconvenienced by this strike action,” she said. “We know that for many of them it will be very difficult to get childcare.
“But we’re also receiving many more messages from parents who say ‘Well, something has to be done, my child is being taught by supply teacher after supply teacher’.”
1,000 Border Force staff announce cross-Channel half-term strike
08:59 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Border Force officers in major ports including in France have announced they will take fresh strike action during the upcoming half-term holiday.
Around 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in Dover, Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk will strike on February 17, 18, 19 and 20 in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
1,000 Border Force officers announce cross-Channel half-term strike as 100,000 @pcs_union members in 123 government departments walk out in what is the biggest civil service strike in a decade #RightToStrike #PCSonStrike #1FebStrike https://t.co/7ks58BG9Iw
— PCS Press (@PCSPress) February 1, 2023
The announcement comes as 100,000 PCS members in 123 government departments and bodies, including Border Force, walk out today in what is the biggest civil service strike in a decade.
Read more on the half-term strikes here.
Public support for striking rail staff ‘getting stronger’ - Mick Whelan
09:04 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Support for strikes among train workers and the wider public is “getting stronger” one year on from the first Aslef ballot, according to the union’s general secretary.
Speaking at a picket outside London’s Euston station this morning, Mick Whelan said: “We’ve seen polling this week that shows that the general public are supporting all the unions that are on strike, including the rail unions.
“You’ll see from the hundreds of thousands of people that are on strike today across all sectors that the cost-of-living crisis doesn’t just impact on train drivers, it impacts on everybody.
“Everybody knows somebody working somewhere that’s out on strike, about to go on strike or being balloted for strike action.
“Quite simply, the Government has now got to listen – the people in this country are speaking, and they’re speaking volumes that they want a cost-of-living increase.”
Pictured: Teachers take to picket lines
09:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Teachers have joined picket lines this morning - as the National Education Union estimates around 85 per cent of schools will be either fully or partially closed due to today’s walkout.
Around 200,000 teachers from 23,000 schools are expected to strike today.
The Department for Education has offered a 5% pay rise to most teachers for the current school year, but the NEU is demanding a fully funded above-inflation pay rise for teachers.
London headteacher: ‘We can’t afford to keep children safe - that’s why I’m striking'
09:27 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Richard Slade, headteacher of Plumcroft Primary School in Greenwich, has told the Standard why he’s walking out for the first time in his 20-year career.
“It’s got to the stage in which hope, possibility, joy, and opportunity are being wiped out of education, and schools like mine are getting to the point where we can no longer afford to keep children safe,” he explained.
He said when he became headteacher in 2010 there was sufficient funding “to deliver our curriculum and enhance it with things like visits from musicians, residential school trips, and health and wellbeing projects”.
“We can’t afford to do them now because the numbers simply do not work,” he added.
“Not only can we not afford those so-called ‘extras’ like tackling obesity; we’ve reached the point where there simply isn’t enough money to be able to do even the day-to-day basics of education properly.
“We teachers have been paddling away under the surface for years, putting on a brave face, staying cheerful and optimistic for the sake of the children in our care and their families, but it’s reached the point where we can’t paddle any more. We’re sinking.”
Read the full story here.
How to get around London amid bus, rail, and tube strikes this week
09:51 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Bus and rail strikes are taking place today and will affect London later in the week too, as staff walk out in disputes over pay, job security, and redundancies.
For a full breakdown of the transport strikes and how to travel around the capital when they’re taking place, click here.
Union boss describes ‘scandal’ as civil servants turn to food banks
10:00 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Civil servants are using food banks and will stage more walkouts unless the Government’s 2 per cent offer to them is improved, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union has said.
Speaking on a picket line outside HM Treasury this morning, Mark Serwotka said: “PCS members are currently using food banks, they are claiming in-work benefits, tens of thousands of them are on the national minimum wage. That’s a scandal.
“We are balloting a further 35,000 members including big departments like HMRC. All the indications in those ballots is they are going twice as well as they were last time.
“We have just announced further long-term strikes at the borders and the British Museum, and more of those will follow. If the Government wants to avert that disruption, put money on the table and let’s start talking.
“For us they have said they are not prepared to consider a one-off payment because they consider 2022 pay as closed.
“Of course the crisis is now. People’s energy bills are landing now, people are skipping meals already.”
WATCH: ‘People are skipping meals now - we need money on the table now’, says PCS boss
10:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Striking civil servant: ‘I am one pay cheque from homelessness'
10:19 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
A civil servant has told how she is “one pay cheque away from homelessness” following a decade of real-terms cuts to civil service wages.
Cabinet Office civil servant Ellie Clarke, 31, said on Wednesday morning: “It is really, really hard. I am terrified every day. I am always worried I am one crisis away from homelessness.
“I am just one pay cheque away from being homeless. We shouldn’t be in this situation… we are working for the Government.
“We are just living in poverty. There is absolutely no chance we could go to the theatre or even just have some dinner with friends.”
The PCS - the largest trade union in the civil service - is seeking a pay rise of 10 per cent after the government paid 2 per cent, which the union complained was well below the soaring rate of inflation.
City congestion levels drop amid strikes
10:49 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Traffic levels in cities across Britain plummeted during this morning’s rush hour as up to half-a-million workers went on strike, causing thousands of schools to close.
Location technology company TomTom said the level of road congestion in London at 8am was 68 per cent, down from 82 per cent last Wednesday.
Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield also saw significant drops in traffic - with levels falling by between 14 per cent and 26 per cent.
TomTom traffic expert Andy Marchant said the data suggests workers “have become accustomed to the disruption and are planning their commute accordingly or are staying at home altogether”.
Protestors gather in central London for huge march
11:19 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Workers are preparing to take part in rallies cross the country - opposing controversial new legislation proposed by the government to curb the impact of industrial action.
Striking members of the National Education Union (NEU) and their supporters are marching from Portland Place in central London to Westminster, where they will hold a rally against the Government’s Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
Similar Protect the Right to Strike protests are taking place in towns and cities across the country today, in opposition to the legislation which would require minimum levels of service from ambulance staff, firefighters and railway workers during strikes.
Strike action closes British Museum
11:45 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
The British museum has announced it is closed today due to strike action.
Members of the PCS union employed by the instituation are among the hundreds of thousands of workers striking today - with more walkouts planned at the museum for the upcoming half-term holiday.
Due to industrial action taking place across the public sector, the Museum will be closed today, Wednesday 1 February.
Ticket holders for permanent collection visits and special exhibitions will be notified about next steps for their booking.
Read more: https://t.co/bj9qPjIKfF pic.twitter.com/Lwq3zNkILu
— British Museum (@britishmuseum) February 1, 2023
Thousands of striking teachers march on Westminster
11:53 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Thousands of striking teachers and their supporters have gathered outside Broadcasting House in central London before marching to Westminster.
Teachers chanted “Hey, hey, Sunak, ooh ahh, I want to know if you’ll fund my school” to the tune of “Hey! Baby”. They also carried signs demanding the Government “pay up”.
Wimbledon primary school teachers Jess Olivares, 26, and Laura Mears, 29, were among those marching. Ms Olivares said: “We’re here today because change really needs to happen, we need more funding in our schools. This is about our children and the future of our children.”
She said that children with special education needs were being affected by a lack of funding for schools.
“There are children with special education needs that don’t have the provision in place that they deserve to have.”
Ms Mears added: “There are children who can’t get the support that they need because there isn’t the funding to get them assessed.”
Lack of funding affects those with special needs the most - striking teacher
12:09 , Josh Salisbury
A teacher has told how a lack of funding in schools has impacted students with special needs the most.
Speaking to the PA news agency while on a march to Westminster on Wednesday, west London secondary school teacher Toby Dawson said: “You see it when it comes to having help for kids with special education needs, the lack of people available to help out the kids who are really in need.
“There's no money to get more teaching assistants and LSAs (Learning Support Assistants) into schools at the moment. I would say that's probably the number one impact that's felt."
The 28-year-old physics teacher said that he is seeing kids with special needs not get the support they need in his own school.
“I have kids that come into school at the beginning of the year, and maybe a couple of times a week they might have someone with them who could help support them with their special education needs," he said.
“But really that should be every lesson, maybe in the past it would have been like that, but it's just not happening at the moment."
Thousands of students join striking lecturers, says union
12:22 , Josh Salisbury
Thousands of students have joined striking university staff on picket lines across the country, the University and College Union (UCU) has said.
Universities across the UK have been hit by strike action, with lectures and seminars cancelled, as 70,000 staff have started a series of walkouts.
Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said: “University staff have turned out in massive numbers on picket lines today. Their anger over falling pay, insecure employment and pension cuts is impossible to ignore.”
She added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support of thousands of students who have joined us on picket lines across the country.
“They recognise that vice chancellors are wrecking the sector and are determined to stand with us and fix it.”
Pictured: Teachers at strike rally in central London
12:54 , Josh Salisbury
Corbyn joins teachers’ rally in London
13:10 , Josh Salisbury
Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader who now sits as an Independent in the Commons, has joined a rally for the teachers’ strike in central London.
Network Rail makes fresh offer to rail union RMT
13:15 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Network Rail (NR) has made a “newly revised” offer to the biggest rail workers’ union in a bid to break the deadlock over a long-running dispute about pay, jobs and conditions.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said its executive will consider the details of the offer, and that its members will be consulted.
The RMT dispute with NR is separate to the train drivers’ row with rail operators, which led to a strike on Wednesday.
The RMT represents signallers, maintenance staff and other workers at NR.
NR said new elements of the offer included an increase in London allowances for those who are currently on, or move onto, different contracts.
“We want to introduce a standard 35-hour working week for everyone,” said spokesperson Tim Shoveller. “We’re now committing to work with the unions to review contracts above a 35-hour week so we can agree a way forward.
“We’ll introduce a better long service award framework for general grades, which will be backdated to 2022.”
Read more here.
Civil servants are needing food bank referrals, says union rep
14:30 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Union reps in the civil service are carrying out referrals to food banks and a hardship fund, a union rep has said.
Home Office civil servant and mother-of-two Mayuri Patel, 36, told PA news agency in her capacity as a union rep: “Many people are saying they need access to food banks and a benevolence fund for civil servants.
“Our pay hasn’t increased at all in 12 years even though we do a very important job securing our borders.
“Everyone is feeling the pinch and enough is enough.”
More teaching strikes will come without ‘meaningful proposal’ from government, say union leaders
14:35 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
The Education Secretary must “step up with concrete and meaningful proposals” on teachers’ pay to prevent further strikes, union leaders have said.
The National Education Union (NEU) has estimated around 85% of schools in England and Wales have been affected by teacher walkouts.
“This is no cause for celebration, but an indication of the level of anger amongst our members,” said joint general secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney.
“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, February 28, to change her stance.”
The union leaders warned: “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.”
Mick Lynch to London protesters: ‘We are the working-class, and we are back’
14:51 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has told teachers “we are the working class, and we are back” at an NEU rally in Westminster on Wednesday.
Addressing thousands of striking teachers gathered outside Downing Street, he said: “Welcome to Westminster, the house of fools and the house of the corrupt.
“Last year, Grant Shapps, remember him? He’s still around. Lurking around all of these buildings here, running the Government, telling Rishi Sunak what to do, trying to ban the working class.
“He was telling the media that the railway workers have got no friends, that we would be back at work, and how dare we ask for a pay rise when teachers can’t afford to live, when nurses are more deserving cases, when public-sector workers can’t get a pay deal.
“Our message then, as it is today, is every worker needs a pay rise, every worker needs a square deal.
“And our message is sod this, we demand, and we are united. We will not be divided on the basis of who we work for. We will not be divided on the basis of our belief, or the colour of our skin, or the part of the country we are from.
“We are the working-class, and we are back. We are here, we are demanding change, we refuse to be bought, and we are going to win for our people on our terms.”
Watch: Mick Lynch addresses protesters in London
16:19 , Daniel Keane
Nearly nine in ten schools affected by strikes - survey
16:39 , Daniel Keane
Nearly nine in 10 schools and sixth-form colleges in England and Wales with teachers on strike have shut their doors to some pupils, a survey suggests.
The majority of schools have been affected by the first day of walkouts by tens of thousands of National Education Union (NEU) members, according to a snapshot poll by a school leaders' union.
Among the 920 schools and sixth-form colleges polled where teachers were on strike, 11% reported being fully open with all students on site.
Four in five (80%) said they were partially open with some students on site and 9% said they were completely shut during the strikes, the survey by the Association of School and College Leaders suggests.
One in ten schools completely shut during strikes, says DfE
17:00 , Daniel Keane
Nearly one in ten schools in England were fully closed during the teachers' strike on Wednesday, Department for Education (DfE) data has suggested.
Around 16,400 (77%) state schools in England submitted attendance data to the DfE on the first day of walkouts by the National Education Union.
Based on the schools whose status were known, 45.9% were estimated to be fully open, 44.7% open but restricting attendance and 9.3% closed.
Nearly a fifth (17.4%) of secondary schools were estimated to be fully open and a further 73.6% were restricting attendance, compared to 52.1% of primary schools estimated to be fully open and 38.7% restricting attendance.
Watch: Teachers strike moving through London
17:22 , Daniel Keane
Just one in ten schools stayed fully open - poll
18:25 , Daniel Keane
Only 11% of schools and sixth-form colleges with teachers on strike were fully open on Wednesday, a snapshot poll suggests.
Nearly nine in 10 schools and sixth-form colleges in England and Wales with teachers on strike have shut their doors to some pupils, a survey suggests.
The majority of schools have been affected by the first day of walkouts by tens of thousands of National Education Union (NEU) members, according to a snapshot poll by a school leaders’ union.
Education Secretary ‘put on notice’ over further strikes
18:54 , Daniel Keane
Mr Courtney and Mary Bousted, the joint general secretaries of the NEU, have said that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has been “put on notice” over further strikes.
They said: “She has until our next strike day for England, February 28, 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."
Keegan brands strikes ‘disappointing'
19:29 , Daniel Keane
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has called strike action by the National Education Union (NEU) "deeply disappointing".
Speaking on the first day of teacher strikes in England and Wales, Ms Keegan said: "I am very grateful to head teachers for all their work to keep our schools open and to minimise the impact of today's strike action.
"One school closure is too many and it remains deeply disappointing that the NEU proceeded with this disruptive action - but many teachers, head teachers and support staff have shown that children's education and wellbeing must always come first.
"Conversations with unions are ongoing and I will be continuing discussions around pay, workload, recruitment and retention, and more."
21:12 , Matt Watts
That’s it for our strike coverage for the day. For our latest lead on strikes click here.