The first stopwork to hit secondary schools in eight years looks certain to go ahead tomorrow as talks between teachers and the Ministry of Education remain in a stalemate.

Most colleges are expected to stop classes during the strike.

A random survey of Auckland schools showed the majority did not have enough non-union teachers to provide lessons. Some will provide supervision for Year 9 and 10 students who cannot study at home.

Canterbury teachers have been exempted from the strike in the wake of the September 4 earthquake. Schools in the region which were not severely damaged will stay open.

The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) said it had not wanted to strike, but that was the only way forward after 11 days at the bargaining table without resolution.

"We would rather believe in the merits of our argument," said PPTA president Kate Gainsford. "But we are not interested in going round and round in circles and not solving anything."

She said pay negotiations in the past eight years had put a strong emphasis on problem-solving, but this was absent in the latest round of bargaining.

The teachers are seeking a 4 per cent increase, and a "genuine commitment" by the ministry to address class sizes and teacher retention and recruitment.

Ms Gainsford said the whole package was important - remuneration alone would not solve the pressure put on teachers by growing classes and a bigger workload under the NCEA system.

"I had a teacher tell me she had 10 students who had to sit along the window sill because there weren't enough seats. How are those kids going to be properly served?"

Teachers the Herald spoke to said their current workload was "insane", because of an overhaul of the standards system which required them to redesign new standards.

The ministry has offered teachers a 1.5 per cent rise, with an additional 1 per cent after 12 months. The Government stated this was in line with other public sector settlements and the base rate of inflation.

The PPTA rejected the offer, with support from 95 per cent of its members.

Ministry spokeswoman Fiona McTavish said she hoped the PPTA would return to the bargaining table. The ministry stressed that teacher vacancies were at a historic low.

Ms Gainsford said the ministry's method of calculating vacancies - by counting job ads in the Education Gazette - was deeply flawed.

"If you talked to lots of principals and told them there was no teacher recruitment problem, they would laugh."

ONE-DAY STOPPAGE
* Taking place tomorrow.
* Many secondary schools have cancelled all lessons, but will provide supervision for Year 9 and 10 students.
* Most schools will continue exams.
* Parents in doubt should contact their children's school.

WHAT TEACHERS ARE SEEKING
* 4 per cent pay increase.
* Commitment to reducing class sizes, improving health and safety, and encouraging teacher recruitment and retention.
* An end to clawbacks from the Ministry of Education.