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Primary Education News
News Teachers union passes vote of no confidence in Michael Gove
Conference delegates say education secretary has shown 'abject failure' to improve education or respect teachers
Hundreds of teachers have passed a vote of no confidence in the education secretary, Michael Gove, and the chief inspector of England's schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw.
Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) annual conference overwhelmingly carried the motion. Teachers described Gove and Wilshaw as showing "abject failure to improve education or treat teachers, parents and pupils with respect".
ATL is the most moderate of the classroom unions and it is the first time in its history that delegates have passed a motion of no confidence in an education secretary.
Gove stoked teachers' anger this weekend by writing in the Mail on Sunday that they were against his plans for performance-related pay because they "resented the recognition of excellence". He also said headteachers of academies, unlike other state schools, "put the needs of children ahead of the demands of shop stewards".
Jean Roberts, from London, told the conference of 300 teachers: "We have no confidence in Gove or Wilshaw. If any of us behaved to our pupils the way they behave to our profession, we would be sacked."
Teachers are angry at changes to their pay and pensions and the scale of reforms to all parts of the curriculum. They are expected to voice their fury at Gove and Wilshaw at their annual conferences over the next week. The National Union of Teachers will also propose a vote of no confidence in Gove and call on Wilshaw to resign.
Mary Bousted, the ATL general secretary, said Gove and Wilshaw were "sucking the life and hope out of our education system and the teachers who work within it".
But Jesse Ratcliff, from Lincolnshire, told delegates to wait until the general election to show their displeasure with the government.
The conference also heard that some families were so poor that children were having to choose between catching a bus and having lunch. Teachers had to delve into their own pockets to ensure children had something to eat during the school day.
"We are not talking about sweet-stuffing Billy Bunters," said Clare Kellett, from West Somerset Community College. "Some of these students may not be sure of having a decent meal once in the day. Increasingly, teachers have to put their hands in their own pockets to lift children out of poverty."
Teachers expressed outrage that sixth-formers whose joint family income is under £16,000 a year were entitled to free school meals if they attended a school sixth form, but not if they went to a sixth-form college or further education college.
One college teacher said her students had fainted from hunger on several occasions. "There is no centralised way of identifying who may qualify for free meals, so the provision is very hit and miss," Tricia Elliott, who works in a college in Warwickshire, said.
A survey of 300 college teachers by ATL found a fifth had offered to buy food for their pupils.
A Department for Education spokeswoman, reacting to the no-confidence vote said for too long other countries had been outpacing England: "We need to make sure we have an education system that is robust and rigorous, with exams and qualifications that match the world's best. This ambition is surely something the ATL should be supporting.
"Good teaching is critical to the success of our education system and we are making sure that it is properly recognised. We have put in place measures specifically to support teachers through increased funding for disadvantaged pupils and better opportunities for professional development."