NUT conference: Union leader goads Michael Gove, saying she's proud to be a member of 'The Blob'

Delegates attack decision to spend £45m on new selective school in Westminster while existing sixth-form colleges face cuts

Education Editor

A teachers' leader has declared yesterday is proud to be a member of “The Blob” - the derogatory term used by Education Secretary Michael Gove to disparage his opponents.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, made the comment as she pledged “to lead as much action as our members feel is right” in the union's fight with the Government over Gove's school reforms.

She added that she and her deputy general secretary, Kevin Courtney, had “led more action than at any time in the last 30 years”.

“We have had: assaults on pensions; the prospect of working to 68 and beyond; deregulation of pay; punitive performance management; morale at a low ebb; an accountability system ruining the lives of many good and experienced teachers - as well as two in five teachers leaving in their first five years,” she added.

The union's annual conference voted on Monday for national strike action in June - the fifth time they have organised a nationwide walkout since the coalition Government took office.

Ms Blower said the union had to draw its own election manifesto for education to combat Mr Gove's reforms, adding: "Perhaps we'll call it 'Better Learning Outcomes for Britain - or 'BLOB'."

The Blob , the term used by Mr Gove to dismiss his critics, comes from a 1950's science fiction movie starring Steve McQueen - which was about an amoeba that ate humans.

Read more: What is 'the Blob' and why is Michael Gove comparing his enemies to an unbeatable sci-fi mound of goo which once battled Steve McQueen?

“I'm certainly very proud to be included in that group whom Michael Gove seeks to disparage with his use of that term,” Ms Blower said.

She also criticised plans for new compulsory tests for four-year-olds - to be introduced in 2016 - saying: “Not only are we testing children at far too young an age but a new and sinister expression has crept into our language.  Children are now to be made 'school ready'.  Surely, conference, what we want is for schools to be child ready.”

Ms Blower also hit out at what she termed the scandal of the Government's decision to spend £45m on a new selective school for sixth-formers in Westminster while existing sixth-form colleges were facing cuts.

“From the start the union has been absolutely right about free schools,” she added. “It's the wrong model and is leading to a massive waste of public resources.”

Her comments follow unanimous backing from the conference for strike action in sixth-form colleges where staff are facing redundancy. Conference delegates also announced plans for a national campaign to oppose the setting up of the new school.

The school, sponsored jointly by Westminster independent school and the Harris Foundation academy chain, will offer places for 500 “bright” teenagers, mainly from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Philippe Harari, from Cambridge, said cuts to existing college budgets meant larger classes and no longer offering some subjects like law, modern languages and history as A-level options in some areas.

In addition to the cuts in funding, the sixth-form colleges were also having to pay VAT on goods and services - unlike academies and private schools which were exempt.  “This is a systematic ideological assault on the sixth-form sector,” he added.

Jerry Glazier, for the union's executive, accused Mr Gove of acting with “disdain” by cutting funding for sixth-form colleges “and then splurging £45m on a single selective free school in Westminster”.

Patricia Hartley, from Islington, said the campaign against the school would include a national lobby attended by representatives of sixth-form colleges throughout the country. The new free school is due to open this September.

“We should stand up for sixth-form college education for all working class students - not just all those with three A's who can go on to Oxford or Cambridge,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education condemned strike action - saying it would only “damage the profession," and disrupt children's education.

Ministers, she said, had been meeting with teachers' unions and would continue to do so.

Mr Gove has praised the new Westminster free school, saying it will give a “fantastic opportunity” to disadvantaged young people - giving them the option of an education previously only reserved for the better off.

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
Sport
football
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
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 General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

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