A Southend headteacher has said he could not "remain silent" as conditions of employment for teachers and support staff "deteriorate".

Southend High School for Boys headteacher and former National Education Union president, Dr Robin Bevan has joined striking teachers in the city centre today.

Thousands of teachers have walked out across south Essex today in a row over pay and funding, with more strikes planned on March 1, 15 and 16.

Southend Trade Unions Council is holding a rally at the Odeon in Southend from noon and there is a large picket line at Chase High School, in Prittlewell Chase, Westcliff.

Teachers marched from Roots Hall Stadium at 11.30am, where they were joined by Dr Bevan.

The headteacher addressed striking teachers in the SUFC legends lounge before the march, reading a letter he sent out to his staff.

He said: "It is with a very heavy heart that I am withdrawing my labour as a member of the NEU.

"As you know I've worked tirelessly across recent days to ensure that school provision for tomorrow is the best it could be under the circumstances.

"My strength of feeling has not diminished my commitment to duty.

"Working alongside colleagues who I value, admire and trust everyday, teachers and support staff, I will not remain silent nor will I stand idle as their conditions of employment deteriorate and as funding levels jeopardise the quality of provision and opportunity for young people in schools across the country."

He shared stories with the striking teachers and explained the "importance" of supporting teachers who are walking out today.

He also reminded members to talk "constantly" about the importance of the legal right to take strike action when there is a serious cause.

He ended his speech by saying: "We can imagine what it would be like if class sizes were appropriate, if we were paid at a level that attracted rewards and retains, and in circumstances where our schools have the money they needed to buy the resources and equipment that then can be retained and replaced over time.

"It's easy to imagine it actually, and it happens in other countries, so it is time for change, go back and encourage everybody who took strike action.

"Stick to that clear principle that we have to have an above inflation settlement and we have got to hold out for it. Remember it will not happen tomorrow but everyday we take action over time, bit by bit, our voice will be heard and that change will occur."