Moderate teachers' union backs vote of 'no confidence' in Education Secretary Michael Gove

Delegates also declared no confidence in chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw

Education Editor

Teachers today overwhelmingly backed a motion of no confidence in Education Secretary Michael Gove for failing to treat teachers with respect or improve education standards.

The motion at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference in Liverpool is the first time in the traditionally moderate union's history that it has declared no confidence in a government minister.

Delegates also declared they had no confidence in chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw - who they claimed had turned education standards watchdog Ofsted into a political tool of the government.

Chrissie Jolinon, a teacher from Brent in north-west London, told the conference that Mr Gove was "focussed" to the point of "obstinacy" in delivering his proposed school reforms.

Delegates spoke of their concerns over proposed changes to the national curriculum - which 100 academies in a signed letter to The Independent last week claimed would lead to a "dumbing down" of standards and a return to rote learning in the classroom.

Ms Jolinon said Prime Minister David Cameron had claimed the reforms would mean history would be taught as "the story of Britain's glory", adding: "No teacher with a shred of integrity will teach history with a political bias in the classroom."

Godwin Agbi, a supply teacher from Essex, said Mr Gove had claimed the academics were wrong and their intervention Marxist-inspired.  However, he added that getting academics to agree on anything was often difficult, adding: "Getting 100 of them to sign up to a letter against you takes a special kind of talent."

Jean Roberts, a primary school headteacher - also from Brent, added; "The pressures that these two are putting on staff working in our schools is horrendous.

"I have no confidence in Gove and Wilshaw. If any of us behaved towards our pupils in the way they have behaved towards us, we would be sacked."

The motion came after Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, won a standing ovation from most delegates, for a sustained attack on Mr Gove - claiming he had caused mounting damage to children's education.  She was also critical of Mr Gove's "gang of arm twisters" who, she said, were using threats and bribes to force schools to convert to academies.

Ofsted, delegates argued, had colluded in the academies drive by changing its grading system so that schools previously designed as "satisfactory"." were now described as "requires improvement" and "not good schools", thus becoming eligible for being forced into academy status.

However, Jesse Ratcliff, from Lincolnshire, argued: "If you agree we are a moderate union then we should work with the Secretary of State. If we pass this motion are we not in danger of just reinforcing his opinion of us as left-wing loonies or enemies of education.

"We will actually have a vote of confidence that we may use in the ballot box in 2015. Let's use that then and kick them all out."

Dr Bousted said of the vote: "Michael Gove and Sir Michael Wilshaw have like a blodd brothers' pact to suck the life out of the education system and the teachers who work in it.

"Teachers feel they are depressed and demoralised.  They don't see Gove and Wilshaw's criticisms in the work that they do."

Yesterday afternoon Schools Minister David Laws, addressing the conference, offered the ATL an olive branch by saying: "We should be open to listening to you as well as robustly putting our views across."

A spokesman for the Department for Education added: "For too long other countries have been outpacing us.  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 is surely something the ATL should be supporting."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are active...

Calling All NQT's

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are active...

General Cover Teacher

£100 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Secondary Teachers of all sub...

General Cover Teacher

£100 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Secondary Teachers of all sub...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game