STRIKE action by teachers due to affect hundreds of schools across Gwent tomorrow has "not been taken lightly", according to Wales' largest teaching union, NUT Cymru.

The union, which has around 17,000 members in Wales, blamed the need for industrial action on the UK Government, and in particular education secretary Michael Gove, failing to recognise "the detrimental impact their policies are having on the sector".

But a spokesman for the Department for Education said that less than a quarter of teachers voted in favour of this strike and accused the union of taking action that will "disrupt parents' lives, hold back children's education and damage the reputation of the profession".

The reasons behind the strike include performance-related pay and pensions for teachers.

Torfaen division secretary Brian Hughes, who took to Cwmbran town centre with fellow NUT members on Saturday ahead of the strike to speak to parents, said teachers are "very reluctant" to take strike action.

"We understand and regret that it will inconvenience parents, so the least we can do is to try to explain why we are doing this," he said. "Almost all of the parents we spoke to said that they were pleased we made the effort to do so.

"The efforts the union has gone to in order to avoid this strike shouldn’t be underestimated," he said. "We cancelled a strike in November and a further day in February.

"However, the Westminster Government are still not recognising the hugely detrimental impact they are having on education. Teachers are seeing their pay and pensions cut and morale is taking a big hit.

"This is not a decision that has taken lightly. However, teachers across the area feel strongly that they have to make a stand," he said.

Keep an eye on the Argus website for an up-to-date list of schools which are closed or partially closed tomorrow.