MORE than half of schools in Bolton are shut today as teachers in Bolton walked out in protest of Government changes to education.

Striking teachers gathered outside Bolton Sixth Form College this morning before making their way to Manchester for a mass rally.

The one-day walkout, called by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) — one of the biggest teaching unions — is the latest move in its continuing campaign of industrial action.

It is in protest against changes to terms and conditions, which they say are damaging children’s education.

Julia Simpkins, secretary of the Bolton branch of the NUT, said: “This action comes back to the same thing — all we are asking is for Mr Gove, the Education Secretary, to have meaningful talks with teachers, teachers know about education, they are trained in it.”

She added: “This action is being reported as being about pay, of course we would like more pay who wouldn’t, but to say it is all about that is disingenuous.

“It is about what is happening to children’s education in this country, the privatisation of it, non-qualified teachers being allowed to teach.

“We have had a lot of support this morning, which really lifts the spirits.”

Michael Gove yesterday wrote to seven union bosses setting out the progress he believed had been made in talks between the department for education and teaching unions.

In it, he said he wanted to underline his commitment to the talks process, but the NUT said the letter showed how little progress had been made in the talks.

The NUT has been embroiled in its dispute with the Government for more than two years, and staged a series of regional strikes with the NASUWT teaching union last year.

A proposed one-day national walkout in November by the two unions was called off and the NASUWT has decided not to take part in today's strike.