1 Jul '14

News Fred Jarvis: veteran NUT leader says union is too ready to resort to strikes

The former teachers' union leader says Michael Gove is 'irresponsible, gaffe-prone and ideological'. But he still believes in the power of persuasion and argumentFrom a bewildering heap of books, papers, pamphlets, folders, mementos and, for all I know, old socks, Fred Jarvis pulls out, after only a second's hesitation, a slim volume we have just been talking about. We are in his home in the north London suburb of Barnet, where he has lived in this semi-detached Victorian house for 55 years, the last seven of them alone, following the death of his wife, Anne. Almost every square foot of space, whether on floors or surfaces, is covered by evidence of his main interests, which are education, photography, West Ham United, horse racing, jazz and Provence, where he has a second home. "Do you ever trip over this stuff?" I ask. Jarvis looks faintly surprised. "No, not yet," he says.Now 89, Jarvis worked for the National Union of Teachers for 34 years, the last 14 as its general secretary, during which his office was scarcely more tidy than his home is now. He retired in 1989, but this is not what most of us would call retirement. You will find him at educational meetings and you may sometimes think he's nodding off until he intervenes with a sharp comment or a pertinent question. In the early 1990s, mainly to meet a Labour party request for expert advice, he formed what became the New Visions for Education Group, which has grown to include more than 100 academics, headteachers, parents, administrators, school governors and others. (Interest declared: I am a not-very-active member.) It advocates "a well-funded, inclusive and equitable public education service". The members' views on how this may be achieved vary widely but, if there is an embodiment of what Michael Gove calls "the Blob" or "education establishment", this is probably it. Continue reading...

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