Chalk Talk: Michael Gove has achieved the impossible: uniting the teaching unions


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The Independent Online

Honestly, you go on holiday for a week and the whole educational landscape changes. Not, this time, as a result of some government initiative, but a "historic" joint declaration by the National Union of Teachers and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

It commits them to a unified campaign of strikes and industrial action over pay, pensions, working conditions and job losses. Education Secretary Michael Gove, it seems, has achieved what his predecessors failed to do and got the two rivals working together. But the unions scotched any idea the move could pave the way for an eventual merger.

However, now that they have negotiated their way to a joint agreement on industrial action, maybe they could come up with another consensus – on which is the biggest organisation of the two.

* Good news two weeks running – the pioneering university technical college in the heart of East London that I wrote about two weeks ago has been given the go-ahead by ministers. The new East London University Technical College, which aims to provide youngsters with the technical expertise they need to become engineers, is one of 15 of the new breed of colleges approved by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Some of the others on the list appear quite imaginative proposals, too. For instance, there is a UTC specialising in aviation engineering, located close to London's Heathrow Airport. In all, there will be 34 UTCs opening by September 2014 – in excess of the 24 envisaged by the Government.

At least one area of education is, therefore, expanding – although it does have its critics, who claim UTCs will divert resources away from existing institutions.

The point is, though, that many existing institutions providing vocational education lack credibility with the employers their youngsters wish to work for. The UTCs seem to have a chance of overcoming this hurdle.

Incidentally, I suppose it's too much to hope for funding for the innovative dance school featured today?