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'Majority' of teachers to strike
Thousands of schools are expected to face disruption today as teachers stage a fresh wave of strikes in an ongoing row over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Pupils in four regions of England - the North East and Cumbria, the South West, South East and London - will be affected, as members of two of England's biggest teaching unions take part in the second day of walkouts this term.
The industrial action has been organised by the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT.
The Government has condemned the move, saying it is "disappointed" that the unions have decided to strike.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said that the "overwhelming majority" of teachers in each of these areas would be on strike.
"No teacher has any wish to inconvenience parents or disrupt pupils' education, but this action is not the failure or due to the unreasonableness of teachers," she said.
"It is the failure and unreasonableness of the Secretary of State, who day-in-day-out is disrupting the education of children and young people through his attacks on the teaching profession."
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "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% of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70% either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all.
"All strikes will do is disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession."
The unions have said that the dispute focuses on three key issues - pay, pensions and conditions.
They are opposed to Government plans to allow schools to set teachers' salaries, linked to performance in the classroom, and argue that pensions changes will leave their members working longer, paying in more and receiving less when they retire.
They also accuse the Government of attacking their working conditions, including introducing reforms that will allow schools to have longer school days and longer terms.
The first regional walkout took place in the North West on June 27, and further strikes took place in East of England, the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside on October 1.
Plans for a national one-day walkout before Christmas have also been announced by the two unions.
Research published earlier this month revealed that the UK public think teachers should be paid around 15% more than their current salaries, while almost three-quarters (74%) were in favour of performance-related pay for teachers.
The findings, part of the Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Status Index, also revealed that the UK was split over the influence unions should have in teachers' pay and conditions.
More than 40% said they had too little influence, and just under 30% said they had too much.
Education minister David Laws described the strike as "bad for pupils and bad for parents", adding: "I don't believe this strike is justified and it is not going to change Government policy."
He told ITV's Daybreak: "These are reforms that are taking place across the whole of the public sector. They are, I'm afraid, necessary in these very difficult times where we have to get the budget back under control. Most teachers, I believe, accept that."
He also doubted how much support the strike will get.
He said: "The right way to fix education policy is either by talking with the Government or through the ballot box and not taking industrial action. I think that is the view of the vast majority of teachers who I don't think will be striking today even in those areas where the NUT and NASUWT are trying to take action."