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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
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

Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Practitioner - Faringdon

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunity for you to jo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Developer - Cirencester - £29,000

£25000 - £29000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have be...

Recruitment Genius: Primary School Sports Coach

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Calling all talented Level 2 qu...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us