TEACHERS at schools across south Essex will walk out of their classrooms on strike next month.

The one-day national strike will mean thousands of children will be forced to stay at home on Wednesday, March 26, after teachers announced the industrial action over pay and pensions.

The action by the National Union of Teachers will be the latest in a long-running dispute and unions are blaming Education Secretary Michael Gove for “persistent refusals”

to address their complaints.

The last action planned for the end of November was called off after it looked like the two sides would get around the negotiating table.

However, Essex regional NUT representative Jerry Glazier said after 17 weeks of no contact, the NUT has decided to take action.

Mr Glazier said: “There had been an indication the Secretary of State wanted to enter into negotiations with us and other unions.

“Seventeen weeks since we were told that, we have had no meaningful discussion and he has refused to have specific meetings with us and others.

“So we have announced our intention to strike onMarch 26.

“If he wants to enter into negotiations we will happily do so. If it can be resolved, a strike would not be necessary.

“The ball is firmly back inMr Gove’s court.”

He added he expected a fairly substantial turnout in support of the strike across Southend and Essex schools.

On October 1 last year ten schools in Southend closed, and ten more were partially shut.

In Basildon, there were seven confirmed closures and seven schools were open for part of the day. All the Basildon academies were closed.

The dispute centres on the introduction of a new performance- related pay structure and tougher pension package.

The NASUWT is meeting this week to decide whether to strike again