As some classrooms sat empty with children learning from home, teachers gathered in Wharf Green to demand change.
Hundreds of teachers from schools all over Swindon went on strike on Wednesday, February 1, and gathered in the town centre to demonstrate for more funding, no more cuts, and a fair pay rise.
The large crowd, waving flags, banners, and placards, heard from representatives of the National Education Union (NEU), which called for the strike action after balloting members, as well as some serving and retired teachers, all highlighting the current reality of life as an educator in local schools.
After this, police blocked Commercial Road to traffic, and the teachers began a march down the road, handing out flyers to members of the public and chanting 'no ifs, no buts, no education cuts' before making their way through the town centre and back into Wharf Green.
The NEU has asked for teachers to be given a 12 per cent pay rise to match inflation, but the government has offered 5 per cent with 2 per cent of that coming directly out of each school's budget.
Debbie Brown, district secretary of the NEU and Swindon teacher, said this wasn't good enough.
"The system is broken, it’s been broken for a long time and is only getting worse, people can’t afford to do the job, schools can’t afford to teach children, they don’t have the basics, they don’t have glue sticks, or paper.
“Everyone single person here is striking reluctantly, but we’re not being left with no choice.”
Jon Timbrell, organiser in the southwest region of the NEU, added: “This isn’t what education should look like, and all we want is for it to be how it should, pay is just one aspect of that.”
One of the teachers who addressed the crowd prior to the march, Jennifer Higgins Khan, was there with a baby in a carrier in front of her. She delivered an impassioned speech.
"I've been at my school for 10 years, I love my school, and I love how much my school cares about our students," she said.
"I've seen our school make a real impact in an economically-difficult area where students are not engaged and taking part in learning.
"Because our school was properly funded, I've seen that shift over the past 10 years where we are able to emotionally support and engage even the most reticent learners. That is not possible without proper funding."
Another speaker, retired teacher Pete Smith, praised the large crowd for turning up
"This decision is being taken against a background of chronic and demoralising underfunding.
"You are standing up for education, you must be proud of that.”