Sixth form college teachers up and down the country have walked out of work as part of a strike by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

The industrial action over changes to pay and conditions has gone ahead today despite a series of meetings with the government, which failed to reach a satisfactory agreement.

Rallies have been organised in major cities including London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Leeds. Schools are also affected.

It comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove wrote to unions yesterday in response to talks.

He said: “On the substance of what has been discussed so far, I can see the case for a number of the arguments you have put forward. In particular, I am keen to ensure that we tackle any unnecessary bureaucracy, which I know is an aim that you share given your concerns about workload.

“I am committed to reducing further the bureaucratic burdens on teachers and am grateful for your views and ideas on how this can be achieved.”

But the letter was not well-received by NUT general secretary Christine Blower.

She said: “Mr Gove’s letter shows how little he listens to the concerns of teachers and how little progress has been made in the talks process. His letter confirms why we are right to strike.

“The Secretary of State has attended none of the talks, nor have other ministers. The talks are with civil servants who are forbidden by Mr Gove from straying into areas of policy. The talks are only allowed to discuss how Mr Gove’s policies are implemented.

“Nevertheless, the NUT has participated fully in the talks because we will use any avenue to seek improvements for teachers and thereby to defend education.”