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Primary Education News
News NUT passes unanimous vote of no confidence in Michael Gove
Teachers at union conference call for education secretary to resign, saying policy is based on 'dogma and political rhetoric'
One of the biggest classroom unions in the country has unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the education secretary, Michael Gove, and called for his resignation.
A 1,000-strong audience at the National Union of Teachers annual conference in Liverpool heard that Gove had "lost the confidence of the teaching profession … [and] failed to conduct his duties in a manner befitting the head of a national education system".
Teachers cheered "Gove must go" after the no-confidence motion was carried.
Gove had "chosen to base policy on dogma, political rhetoric and his own limited experience of education" and made "drastic" changes to schools without consulting parents, teachers, children, governors or councils, the motion said. It added that Gove had demoralised the profession with a "discourse of failure" and carried out government business through private emails.
Gove was "destroying the education of all our children and must go", Jane Walton, a teacher from Wakefield, told the conference.
Oliver Fayers, a teacher from Camden, north London, said teachers had a duty to hold a "failing secretary of state to account". Nick O'Brien, a teacher from Norwich, said Gove was making teaching a profession that "no one in their right mind would consider joining".
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said that if the secretary of state chose to "plough on regardless", his "poll tax moment" could be around the corner.
Gove "should now recognise that morale in the teaching profession is at dangerously low levels", she said. Referring to an NUT poll, Blower said only 8% of parents thought the government had made a positive impact on the education system.
She said teachers were not the "enemies of promise" that Gove said they were. "We just have the temerity to assert that the secretary of state is wrong. The academisation and the onward march towards complete privatisation of our schools and our education system is wrong," Blower added.
A week ago, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers – the most moderate of the classroom unions – overwhelmingly carried a motion of no confidence in Gove and the chief inspector of England's schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Delegates described Gove and Wilshaw as showing an "abject failure to improve education or treat teachers, parents and pupils with respect".
It was the first time in the union's history that delegates had passed a motion of no confidence in an education secretary.
Thomas Unterrainer, a teacher from Nottingham, also pointed the finger at Stephen Twigg, Labour's education spokesman, claiming he had failed to "differentiate himself from Gove in any way".
Last week, Gove stoked teachers' anger by writing in a Sunday paper that teachers were against his plans because they "resented the recognition of excellence" and that activists "put the needs of children ahead of the demands of shop stewards".
A Department for Education spokeswoman said the government's reforms gave teachers more freedom, increased choice for parents and ensured the country's education system "matched the world's best".
"This ambition is surely something the NUT should be supporting," she said.
"We have significantly reduced bureaucracy, given more autonomy to schools than ever before through our academy and free school programmes, and are ensuring good teachers are better recognised through the pay system."