Teachers' union leader quits over class sizes

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The Independent Online
A teachers' union leader who said that classes of 40 pupils were sometimes acceptable resigned yesterday after angry protests from his members. David Walker, chairman of the Professional Association of Teachers, stepped down at the union's annual conference in Derby only 24 hours after taking up the post.

In a speech to the conference previewed in last Saturday's Independent, Mr Walker said: "A group of 40 sensible, well-behaved children, who know what to do and are willing to do it, is quite manageable."

Outraged members of the no-strike union rang its headquarters and several threatened to cancel their membership.

Mr Walker, 57, a retired special school headteacher and now a school inspector, said yesterday that he had "inadvertently expressed views which are quite outside PAT policy. I realise that the job of any national chairman is to uphold the policies of the association and to express the views of members - your views.

"In the circumstances, I have no alternative but to resign."

John Andrews, the union's general secretary, said Mr Walker, who has been a member of the association since 1971, had acted honourably and courageously. In his resignation statement, Mr Walker said that in a series of interviews on Tuesday, broadcasters had pushed him beyond his previous remarks.

t The conference passed a resolution warning that spoken communication could become extinct because children spend so much time using computers they have no time to converse.