Mass rallies are being held in many parts of England today, as teachers take part in another day of regional strikes against the policies of the right wing coalition government. A huge turnout has been reported in all the areas where strikes are taking place. In Bristol for example, a provincial town in the South West, 2000 people attended the rally and hundreds more listened to speakers outside. Many parents and school students joined the demonstrations and placards said everything from 'Gove (the education secretary) must Go!' to 'Ask me why I'm on strike? I love teaching!'

This is the third regional strike in the UK teachers campaign, which uniquely sees the two largest teaching unions working together. Between them, they represent almost 90% of the teaching force in England and Wales, so this has hugely boosted their strength, unlike action in the past, which has been hampered by a lack of unity. Speakers from both unions are addressing the rallies, with many calling for a national strike.

Although restrictive laws in the UK mean that the strike can only be called over pay and conditions, it is about much more than that. The campaign is called 'the Campaign for Education' and is garnering a great deal of support from parents, but also from writers and academics who recognise that the direction in which education is being led in the country - to more and more standardised testing, schools staffed by unqualified people and dismembering of local accountability for schools, is disastrous for the vast majority of children, for education and ultimately for democracy itself. 

The chief adviser of Michael Gove, a man called Dominic Cummings has recently published a 250 page paper in which he puts forward the view, amongst other things, that teaching can make little difference since 70% of 'intellligence' is down to genetics. His latest utterance is that "Many teachers are so mediocre that they should be given a script to read to pupils and forced to follow standardised lesson plans. Removing the scope for thousands of classroom teachers to discuss their own ideas or set children tasks they have designed should raise standards substantially", he says.

These are the same policies which are being advocated by neo-liberal 'reformers' all over the globe, and which teachers are resisting at the same time as the UK teachers, for example in Mexico and Brazil this week. One thing which has characterised this campaign is a huge amount of international solidarity for the UK teachers from places as far away as the US and Australia. Moreover a well-organised social media campaign has generated massive support.

Meanwhile Michael Gove, the coalition education secretary, is apparently in the US, meeting Jeb Bush, brother of ex-President George W Bush, who is responsible for some of the most reactionary and aggressive policies against public education, in Florida, the state of which he was the governor. He was responsible for the setting up of the misnamed 'Foundation for Excellence in Education', a wealthy foundation which promotes the common core, performance related pay, privatisation, Teach for America and all the other neo-liberal 'solutions' to educational inequality. No doubt Mr Gove will be getting some new ideas from him. However he would do better to look over his shoulder at the determined resistance to these same policies on his home turf.