Commenting on remarks made by Michael Gove in response to an oral question by Dr Caroline Lucas MP as to why his Department has not published information on free school applications, despite instructions to do so by the Information Commissioner (ICO), Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Michael Gove’s inaccurate description of the NUT as ‘an extreme left-wing organisation’ shows yet again his lack of adherence to facts and his tendency for overblown rhetoric. The NUT is a trade union which is not affiliated to any political party. He is well aware of this fact.
“The Education Secretary pointed out himself in the 1980s that people should have the right to join a union and the importance of standing up to bullies. That is exactly what the NUT is doing and will continue to do so in the defence of teachers and education.
“Michael Gove still smarts from the NUT’s victory with the Information Commissioner. Christopher Graham, the ICO, ordered the Department for Education to publish information on free schools in February 2013. In an open letter, he stated that Gove’s counter-arguments ‘failed to convince’.(1)
“Last week, the NUT published the findings of a YouGov survey(2) of teachers across the teaching unions. It showed that 82% of teachers and 87% of school leaders do not believe the Coalition Government’s academies and free schools programme is taking education in the right direction and are of the view that morale in the teaching profession continues to fall, with three quarters (74%) of teachers saying their morale has declined since the last General Election.
“The same survey showed that 79% of teachers feel that the Government’s impact on the education system over the last three-and-a-half-years has been negative. An earlier NUT/YouGov survey of parents(3) shows that just 8% of parents believe the Government has made a positive impact on the education system.
“This paints a damning picture of the Education Secretary’s time in post and it is quite obvious that Michael Gove has lost the trust of the profession. Instead of this pointless denigration of the teaching unions, Michael Gove would do far better to start listening to the profession and look to resolving the dispute with the NUT and NASUWT on pay, pensions and conditions”