Teachers in large parts of England are taking part in strikes tomorrow to protest a whole raft of changes brought in by the right wing coalition government and its education minister Michael Gove. Although the country's strict industrial relations laws mean that the demand of the strike has to be changes to pay and conditions, the strikes are about much more than that.

The government has stepped up a 'reform' agenda which is familiar in various forms to teachers around the globe. Successful neighbourhood schools are closed or forced to turn into so-called academies (like US charter schools), while new 'free schools' are set up using public money but run by any group of individuals, religion or corporation which cares to do so. These schools do not have to employ any qualified teachers and are free to set their own pay and conditions, as are academies. Moreover, the government is introducing a prescriptive, 'fact' based, eurocetnric curriculum tied to high stakes testing. Five year olds for example are tested on a stringent diet of phonics, generated by private companies, and taking much of the joy out of story books and poetry for little ones.

Teachers pensions have been cut, and teachers will be forced to work until they are 68 before they can draw a pension. Pay will no longer be based on a national scale but will be determined, even in state schools, by heads and governors, who will base salaries on 'performance' and their abillity to pay in a climate of increasing cut backs.

The strike action tomorrow, October 1st, will be followed by action in the rest of the country on October 17th and following that by a national strike in November. At the same time, the two unions involved - the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NAS/UWT), who between them represent almost 90% of teachers in England and Wales, have organised highly successful Rallies for Education, which will be continuing on the strike days.

The strikes represent a real step forward for the union - particularly in the solidarity between the two unions, which have traditionally been less willing to work together. Moreover the campaign is beginning to generate global solidarity, particularly from the US, where teachers in Chicago have sent messages of solidarity - the Campaign for Education was inspired by the teachers' struggle in Chicago. And messages of support have been received from Seattle, which is leading the fight for a boycott of testing in the US.

Send messages of solidarity to the NUT General Secretary: c.blower@nut.org.uk, (putting 'solidarity' as the message subject). Or tweet messages mentioning @NUTonline