Nicky Morgan was heckled during a teachers’ conference and told to “get off” the stage by one delegate, as she outlined plans to turn English schools into academies
Addressing the annual NASUWT conference in Birmingham – the first Conservative minister to do so since 1997 – the Education Secretary said: “Teachers are the pinnacle of the community, charged with great responsibilities, moulding the next generation.”
But she received a particularly frosty reception from the delegates as she criticised the union’s negative press releases and claimed the education system was now in a better state of affairs than five years ago.
One attendee shouted “get off”, according to the BBC, while another delegate yelled “rubbish” as the Education Secretary outlined the government’s plans to turn all local authority schools into academies.
“I visited the NASUWT website recently and found of the last 20 press releases that the NASUWT had issued only three said something positive. Wouldn’t it be more helpful if your press releases were more positive?” said Ms Morgan.
She continued: “None of us can or should want to deny that the education system is in much better shape than it was five years ago…the evidence speaks for itself."
Ms Morgan was speaking after Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that all remaining local authority controlled schools would become academies run by trusts by 2022, under Government plans contained in the Education Excellence Everywhere White Paper.
She said the academisation of state schools will put children's education into the hands of teachers "who know better than anyone what works in the classroom".
Ms Morgan added: "It isn't for me or officials in Whitehall or Ofsted to decide how best to teach or run schools, it's for you, the teachers who know better than anyone what works in the classroom."
She also told teacher delegates the DfE had listened to the profession and was today realising its findings into reducing teacher workload in the areas of data management, marking and planning.
Lucy Powell, the shadow Education Secretary, said Ms Morgan’s speech displayed “how out of touch she is with what’s going on in education today”.
She added: “She may try and dismiss the response she's had from teachers, but she would be foolish to do so. Parents are just as angry with her costly, unnecessary reorganisation of our schools, which has nothing to do with raising standards and everything to do with ideology. Nothing makes parents more annoyed than ideology getting in the way of their children's education.
"Yet again today, Nicky Morgan has failed to provide a single compelling argument as to why these changes are necessary when the vast majority of schools affected are already highly performing schools.”
About half the auditorium gave a lukewarm applause when the Education Secretary finished her address, the BBC added.
Additional reporting by Press Association