Chalk Talk: Be careful what you say at teacher union conferences

There were mumbles all round and an apology following one speaker's response to a complaint from a colleague

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The Independent Online

You have to be so careful what you say at teacher union conferences these days. Mark Baker, the president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, exhorted a colleague to "come closer" after he complained that he could not read the wording of an amendment on the screen in the conference hall.

Mumbles all round – and cue poor Mark having to make an apology to the conference in case he had upset any blind or short-sighted delegates.

And much debate was sparked by a Labour education spokesman's plans to shake up education standards watchdog Ofsted's inspection regime. He started off by saying: "Ofsted needs to move to a supportive, light-touch, profession-led, centrally modelled, peer review system of inspection."

He then went on to add: "Let nobody tell you this is a soft-touch inspection." Ah well, we shall see.

Meanwhile, the award for the quote of the week goes to the speaker who characterised Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's reign as "old wine in new flasks" – so much more polite than what they were saying about her predecessor Michael Gove last year.

At the Royal Economics Society conference in Manchester, they were hearing that babies conceived in a heatwave were likely to be cleverer than the rest of the population.

One of the reasons for this, according to the researchers, is that middle-class well-educated families are more likely to have air conditioning and therefore are more likely to... I'll leave the rest to your imagination!

It therefore seems unlikely that this revelation should lead to a government drive to get the poor to grin and bear it and try their damnedest for a baby during the next heatwave.

By the way, the research was conducted in sub-Saharan Africa – another reason why it may not have relevance in the UK.