Striking County Durham teacher says staff 'need to be treated with dignity'

A teacher has urged parents to understand the position of those taking to picket lines, saying the are fighting for the long-term future of the education system.

Rochelle Charlton-Liane, who teaches at a school in County Durham, was one of thousands of teachers across the country who took to picket lines for a final day of strike action, after four walkouts in the space of the past two months.

Staff are calling for above-inflation pay increases due to the rising cost of living, but say this should not come out of existing education budgets - as they say this risks leaving teachers with less resources and unmanageable class sizes.

The National Education Union says it regrets the inconvenience the strikes have caused to parents and young people, but says responsibility lies with the government to end the stalemate and come forward with an appropriate offer.

Ms Charlton-Liane said if unions were to give in to calls from government to pause strike action to allow for talks, it would completely undermine their negotiating position.

She said: "Teachers want to go to the table but they're just saying, 'you need to pause strike action.' Why? Why do we need to do it? If we haven't got that there as a failsafe, you're not going to negotiate with us.

"Just to put it into perspective, our kids missed out on a year and a half's worth of education which has put things back like phonics, maths, english, those core subjects. We've been striking for four days. That's it, just four days.

"Teachers are one of the most resilient sets of people and they need to be treated with dignity."

The Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said industrial action simply means further disruption to children’s education.

"I want to get around the table and engage in serious talks on teachers’ pay and other issues to resolve disputes," she added.

"My only condition was that strike action is paused so those discussions can take place in good faith and without disruption."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know