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Primary Education News
News Michael Gove attacked for 'shameful neglect' and undermining education
Mary Bousted, leader of Association of Teachers and Lecturers, to launch broadside against Michael Gove and his policies
The education secretary, Michael Gove, is accused of the "shameful neglect" of pupils as the teachers' union conference season in England gets under way.
Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, will tell the ATL conference in Liverpool that the Conservative reforms are "undermining and harming our pupils' education". Her speech includes attacks on the education secretary and alleges that he is attempting to force schools to secede from the state system.
Claiming that the academy conversion programme was designed to "pave the way for the wholesale transfer of our schools to the private sector if the Conservatives are in office after the next election", Bousted compared it to the privatisations of the Thatcher era: "If Gove was honest, he would auction them. Mrs Thatcher sold off the family silver – at least she didn't give it away."
Saying it gives her no pleasure to devote her address "almost entirely to criticism of a minister of the crown", Bousted will speak of "the dirty tricks of Gove's gang of arm-twisters who are travelling the country using threats and blandishments to get primary schools to convert" to academy status, including warnings of sackings to headteachers who resist.
"When the heat comes on the secretary of state, he will of course deny all knowledge, claiming overzealous civil servants exceeded their brief," Bousted is to tell her members.
The ATL represents 170,000 teachers, lecturers and support staff in both independent and state institutions.
The ATL's conference is to be followed by the National Union of Teachers' conference, which is likely to echo the ATL general secretary's accusations of pupils' education being harmed by "botched" changes to GCSE and A-level exams in England, and the input of teachers and experts being ignored.
"The lack of due process and proper regard for evidence is now undermining and harming our pupils' education," Bousted is to say.
While teachers are used to hearing "the latest nonsense" from politicians on how to teach, the most recent bout of reform is different: "When the changes come so thick and fast, without time for consultation or even consideration, when the changes are so wrong-headed, so damaging to children's education, then the morale of the profession plummets."
The schools minister, David Laws, will also speak at the ATL conference. He tends to escape the often personal criticism leveled at his coalition partner in government.
In her no-holds-barred address, the ATL general secretary accuses the education secretary of dogmatism and gangsterism, of presiding over "bullying and backstabbing" while enjoying "the people skills of an armadillo".
Bousted compares Gove to the headstrong leaders of the Charge of the Light Brigade and even, in the most lurid, albeit tongue-in-cheek passage, offers Gove the parallel of "your fellow countryman, Macbeth", warning: "You should consider Macbeth's fate as you plough ahead."
In Shakespeare's version, Macbeth was brutally slain and his severed head brandished by his enemies.