Members of the two largest teaching unions in England and Wales will be going on strike this term as a result of government attacks on pay and pensions and increasing workload. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmaasters/Union of Women Teachers (NAS/UWT) between them represent 90% of the teaching force in the two countries. The unions have announced regional strikes in October to be followed by a national strike later in the term if  the government does not move to withdraw the proposals.

Teachers are facing increases in pensions contributions, smaller pensions and working to 68 and beyond. The government is also introducing a system of performance related pay, which takes away increases on the basis of experience, and substitutes a system which will leave heads and governors to determine individual teachers pay, and cut the salaries of many teachers.

The right wing coalition government in the UK is also pushing ahead with the introduction of so-called free schools, which will not have to employ qualified teachers, and which are publicly funded but privately run, under conditions where there is a severe shortage of state school places for primary age children. Moreover it is pressurising schools to become academies (like US charter schools), which can set their own pay and conditions for teachers, using a skewed and punitive inspection process - often in the face of community campaigns.

The UK unions have expressed their solidarity with the struggles of Chicago teachers and their understanding of their fight as one which is about the defence of public education. They have organised a series of highly successful and well-attended rallies for education across England and Wales, which include speakers from the community, parents and students as well as teachers. More such rallies are planned for this month.