Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Headteachers cross swords with Gove

Schools should be places of enjoyment and pleasure in learning, says NAHT president Bernadette Hunter
Many of Michael Gove's reforms are 'not in the best interests of children', NAHT delegates have said

Michael Gove has faced the wrath of headteachers over the state of the education system, just hours after they passed a landmark vote of no confidence in the Government's school reforms.

The Education Secretary was greeted with the most hostile reception he has faced during his time in office as members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) warned that they are under intense stress amid major changes to education and the threat of Ofsted inspections.

Mr Gove was heckled as he told the NAHT's conference in Birmingham that they would "part company" over concerns about Ofsted, and was jeered by delegates when he suggested that no school would be marked down in national curriculum tests because one child was off sick.

At the start of the question and answer session NAHT president Bernadette Hunter pointedly told Mr Gove: "Those of us in education, leaders and learners, have never had it so bad. It is within your power to put this right."

Mr Gove clashed repeatedly with delegates during the hour-long debate. Mr Gove told the conference: "If Ofsted causes you stress, then I'm grateful for your candour, but we are going to have to part company."

One delegate responded with "Are you leaving then?"

In a robust defence, Mr Gove went on to say: "What I have heard is repeated statements that the profession faces stress, and insufficient evidence about what can be done about it."

He added: "What I haven't heard over the last hour is a determination to be constructive, critical yes, but not constructive."

During the morning's session the union overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in the Government's education policies. Many of Mr Gove's reforms are "not in the best interests of children", it said.

Heads raised particular concerns about the new national curriculum, major test and exam reform and schools being forced into becoming academies.

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