The two unions representing 90% of teachers in England and Wales, launched their campaign of action to defend public education with two rallies in the North West of England today. The Rallies for Education attracted parents and students as well as teachers and were addressed by speakers from all sections of the school communities.

Schools in England and Wales are facing massive cutbacks as well as a ruthless drive towards privatisation in England, with the punitive use of inspections to turn schools into so-called academies. Not only that but the Education Secretary in England is issuing a series of diktats which turn the clock back to a reductive and heavily tested curriculum - against the advice even of the committees he has appointed to advise him. His latest announcement is that he wishes to lengthen the school year and the school day, even though schools in the UK already work some of the longest hours in the OECD.

Meanwhile in Wales, schools are desparately underfunded and also facing a repressive inspection regime which is used to close down so-called 'failing' schools.

Now the government is scrapping incremental pay progression and tying pay to 'performance', as well as forcing younger teachers to work till they are 68. The NUT and the NAS/UWT are planning a series of joint rallies across the country this term, culminating in regional strikes and a national strike next term. At the heart of their actions is the struggle to defend and build public education, in the face of attacks which are typical of those facing schools all over Europe, the Americas and the Global South as well.