Friday 21 March 2008

As the NUT gathers, it's time for an Easter escape

The start of the NUT conference - with its calls for strikes unless secondary heads are forced into a class size straitjacket and over pay - is always a good cue to escape. (Jim Knight, the schools minister, was absolutely right on Today to dismiss the idea that there should be a class size limit of 20 in secondary schools - with an average of 21, but no evidence that lower class sizes make much difference over the age of seven, this would be a ludicrous straitjacket on headteachers). I still have fond memories of the 1995 conference where the more militant members of the union forced David Blunkett, Estelle Morris and myself into a small office with Doug McAvoy and other NUT leaders - thereafter a 'cupboard' in the lore of education correspondents - while the Trots made an ass of themselves and their union for the benefit of the evening news, and provided David with a wonderful opportunity to highlight New Labour's get-tough approach to failing schools. The current NUT leader Steve Sinnott is a moderate-minded sort, but seemingly remains unable to move the Easter conference and give the ordinary NUT members their voice. Until he does, his union will remain at the margins of real influence, and serve merely to fill space on the Easter news bulletins.

Blogging will be light for the next week, as we head off for some Canaries sun. Happy Easter.

1 comment:

oldandrew said...

The comments about class sizes just make it clear how few teachers involved in union politics teach in shortage subjects. Any attempt to reduce class sizes in maths, science RE etc. will lead to acute shortages of staff, more unqualified and non-specialist teachers taking lessons, and further flight of able teachers from weak schools to strong ones. Yet somehow the unions are still determined to make out that there is an endless supply of teachers ready to step in and teach all these tiny classes they want to create.