May I remind the Secretary of State that the teacher trade unions are composed of - yes, I know it's obvious - teachers. His implied view that the true voice of the profession is distorted by being channelled through a union is so wide of the mark as to be risible.
My own union, the NASUWT, decides policy at an annual conference following lengthy and detailed consultation with the membership, and is accountable to the members for its actions. I feel certain that the other teacher trade unions put equal value upon the democratic process, and will feel as insulted as I do at this scandalous slur.
Mr Patten would do well to realise that the teachers in the classroom are the progenitors of the issues raised, on their behalf, by the unions. He could learn a lesson on the true meaning of democracy had he the humility to acknowledge the professional judgements of those who actually perform the task of teaching, rather than pontificating about it.