Members of the National Education Union in Devon are taking strike action this week in an ongoing campaign over pay and funding.

Schools in East Devon will be affected tomorrow, (Wednesday, July 5) and Friday, (July 7) as hundreds of teachers across the county walk out on those two days.

Many will attend a rally in Exeter on Wednesday, July 5 at 11 am in Bedford Square, to be followed by a family picnic.

Mike Gurney, Joint secretary of Devon NEU and teacher at Okehampton College said: “We are reluctantly taking this action and I would like to apologise to pupils and parents for the impact that it will have. But we have no alternative. Gillian Keegan, the Secretary of State for Education, said that she would not talk to the unions while we were taking action and that we should wait for the report of the School Teachers Pay Review Body to see what pay was recommended. The NEU has done that – we have taken no strike action during the exam period for the last two months. And the STRB has given its report to Government.

"However Gillian Keegan refuses to publish the STRB report, which is widely expected to recommend a 6.5% increase. Having said that we should abide by the STRB recommendation it is reported that the Government will now refuse to implement it. And she refuses to talk to or engage with the unions. The strikes are the fault of one person, and one person only, Gillian Keegan. She could avoid these strikes if she picks up the phone and speaks to the NEU and invites them into serious talks about the STRB report.”

Annie Bennett, teacher and NEU rep at The Kings School in Ottery St Mary said: “Without immediate and sincere commitments from Gillian Keegan regarding schools' funding, the future of education for the majority of students in England is at serious risk. Postpandemic, students need their schools and teachers to be supportive providers of care and quality education. Without financial support, this is impossible as we cannot recruit or retain staff never mind repair buildings, provide enrichment activities or personalised pastoral care that meets the ever-increasing mental, emotional and physical health needs of this generation. This is why we strike. We strike for the futures of our young people, communities and the future of our society. We don't want to strike. We want to teach young people because we care.”