By Graeme Paton, Sophie Borland and Aislinn Simpson

April 24, Telegraph

A third of schools are expected to be thrown into chaos on Thursday as teachers staged their first national strike in 21 years - with threats of further industrial action to come.

Up to 8,000 primary, secondary and special schools are being forced to close - or turn entire classes away - because of the walk-out.

Some parents were still facing uncertainty as headteachers have been unable to confirm on Wednesday night if lessons would be covered.

The National Union of Teachers refused to rule out a rolling programme of strikes later this year as the Government appeared unlikely to cave into their demands for improved pay.

The union - representing almost half of teachers in England and Wales - insist this year's 2.45 per cent rise represents a real-terms cut following a huge increase in the cost of living.

Christine Blower, the NUT's acting general secretary, said high-ranking members would lobby Parliament in June before "further development of the campaign".

College lecturers, job centre workers, coastguards, driving examiners and other civil servants were also preparing to walk out in separate pay disputes.

The combined action - including members of the University and College Union and Public and Commercial Services union - will represent one of the most disruptive days of industrial action since Labour came to power.

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photo: Schools in city areas will be worst affected (Photograph by Jane Mingay)