Hundreds of striking teachers hit the streets of Birmingham as they staged a noisy protest over pay and pensions.
National Union of Teachers members descended on Victoria Square as part of national demonstrations over reforms being imposed by education secretary Michael Gove.
Chufran Ahmed, 34, a teacher at Saltley School, said: “I’m here to protest against Mr Gove and his constant attacks on teachers.
“We want him to listen and stop his changes on pay and conditions.
“Our pension contributions have increased, as have our working hours.
“Another issue is unqualified teachers. I believe every child requires a qualified teacher. I’m saying this as a parent and teacher.”
Schools across the Midlands were hit by the strike, called over performance-related pay, pension changes and what the NUT termed excessive workloads.
Teachers have claimed the changes will force them to work until they are 68.
Some schools were open to certain year groups only, while others were completely closed.
Birmingham NUT joint secretary David Room, said: “The workload is unsustainable and the thought of doing the job until 68 is driving many away from teaching.
“Teacher morale is at dangerously low levels.
“All the polls show Mr Gove is out of touch with teachers and parents – he must listen and change direction. This strike is his fault.
“NUT members would much rather be teaching but they have been forced to take strike action by Gove’s continuous attacks on teachers and education.
“A great many parents understand why we have no choice but to strike and we are very grateful for their support.”
Another teacher, 60-year-old Christopher Sidwell, from Coventry, said: “I’m here because I’m very concerned about the cuts and the effect, or will have on the children, and the effect on the staff.
“Teachers feel under pressure, stressed and under attack. They’re working a ten-hour day and weekends.
“People starting out now will be working until they’re 70. A lot of older teachers want to retire but can’t afford to. The question is, do parents want qualified teachers or unqualified staff?”