MORE than 70 per cent of schools across Hounslow closed during last Thursday's national teachers' strike, union leaders estimated.

That figure is more than twice the council's official statistics, which suggested that just 23 out of 70 schools had shut completely.

However, many schools only opened for sixth-form students or pupils sitting their mocks so as not to disrupt their exam preparations.

Up to 100 teachers from schools across the borough joined a huge rally in central London to protest against the Government's below-inflation pay increase of 2.45 per cent.

Marilyn Bater, secretary of Hounslow National Union of Teachers (NUT), said she had been amazed at the level of public support, especially from parents and pupils affected by the walkout.

Karen Russell, who teaches special needs pupils at Lionel Primary School in Brentford and has been in the profession for 20 years, was among those at the rally.

The 42-year-old mother-oftwo said some of her younger colleagues were moonlighting as nannies to 'keep the wolves from the door'.

She added that the amount of paperwork created by 'knee-jerk' government legislation meant there was less time than ever to spend with children.

Carolyn Nash, who teaches English as an added language at Feltham Community College, was also among the throng in Westminster.

The 60-year-old, of Brentford, said: "The low wages are making it harder to recruit and retain staff, which means standards are bound to fall.

"Younger teachers are quite demoralised, especially in London, because they can't afford to buy homes and are struggling to meet basic living expenses."