LOCAL education could be thrown into chaos next year if proposed strikes by teachers go ahead.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT)decided at its annual conference in Harrogate this week to ballot its members over possible industrial action.

Teachers are unhappy about class sizes, and the way classroom assistants are used within schools.

Teachers could be hitting the streets in Preston and South Ribble demonstrating.

Martin Fisher, regional officer for the NUT, said: "It isn't the union's normal practice to mount pickets in the sense of stopping other people who aren't taking action from working.

"But one of the options may be some form of demonstration or campaigning activities.

"We would want to make sure that the public are aware of the reasons they are taking action."

Union members could soon be balloted on a number of issues, including the use of classroom assistants, who they say are unqualified to teach a whole class of children, and the way SATs exams are used.

NUT members may also refuse to cover for a colleague's absence if they are away from work unexpectedly for more than one day.

Mr Fisher said: "What is going to happen now is that the National Executive will meet and decide how it is going to put into operation the decisions the conference has made.

"They include taking action to boycott SATs, but that is only going to be next year.

"Also, whether forms of action might be taken in response to the Government's decisions to allow unqualified teachers to actually teach full classes."

He added: "The union doesn't wish to disrupt education but in taking its decisions it has to look at the whole picture.

"There is a question about protecting the education of children."