Unions ready to fight 'Mum's Army' plan

(First Edition)

MINISTERS were heading for a new confrontation with teachers last night as two of the three biggest teaching unions revealed plans not to co-operate with a planned reform of training, writes Fran Abrams.

Government plans to introduce one-year training courses for non- graduate infant teachers - dubbed 'Mum's Army' proposals because they are expected to attract women returning from career breaks - have met with universal opposition.

Trainees would be expected to have had relevant experience, which could include raising children.

The 145,000-strong Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has ordered its members to withhold support from these new teachers, and has asked them to lobby school governors not to employ them.

Meryl Thompson, head of the ATL's policy unit, said: 'The Government will find no support for these proposals. They represent a serious threat to standards of education in our primary schools.'

The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, which has 190,000 members, will discuss similar action next month.

Head teachers are also likely to oppose the plans. The National Association of Head Teachers, of which most primary heads are members, said in its response to the proposals that schools would be 'most unwise' to take part in the scheme.