Teachers from across East Devon joined a national day of protest over pay and school funding on Wednesday, July 5.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) went on strike for the day, with a second strike taking place tomorrow (Friday, July 7).

Exmouth Journal: Picket outside Exmouth Community College

There were picket lines outside Cranbrook Education Campus and Exmouth Community College, and many local teachers joined a rally in Exeter, where Lisa Whitters of Sidmouth College was among the speakers.

Exmouth Journal: Lisa Whitters of Sidmouth College

Staff at Sidmouth College and Axe Valley Academy are due to picket tomorrow.

Exmouth Journal: Picket outside Exmouth Community College

The NEU says the strikes, and their impact on children's education, could be avoided if the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, would enter into pay talks with the unions.

She refused to do this while they were taking regular strike action, and said it was necessary to wait and see what the School Teachers Pay Review body recommended. No strikes have taken place for two months before yesterday and the pay review body has now given its report to the Government, but the NEU says the minister is stil refusing to negotiate.

Exmouth Journal: A picketer outside Cranbrook Education Campus

Today (Thursday, July 6), the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would pull out all the stops to find a solution to the pay dispute.

Answering a question, following his speech on education reforms, about why Labour would be able to better address the current strike action, he said: “Because if I had the privilege to be prime minister, if Bridget Phillipson was the education secretary of state, I would ask her and tell her and require her to get in and negotiate every day of the week until it was resolved.

“The Government is sitting it out. Children not being able to school is damaging, everybody knows that. Teachers know it.

“Nobody wants this industrial action, we have to resolve it, the Government’s got a report, a recommendation. It is sitting on it, doing nothing.

“And in the meantime it is not having the negotiations.

“So get in the room, negotiate and sort this out and get our schools back working.”

He added that the Tories 'simply don't care any more' about education: "They’re not interested in raising school standards. How can they be when the number of teachers leaving the profession is at record highs?

“We’ve got to turn this around urgently. That’s why we’ll tackle the retention crisis by rewarding great new teachers who commit to a career in the classroom.”