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Unions 2000 Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Militants accused of harming teaching
nigel de gruchy
Nigel de Gruchy: "Ritual crucifixion of teachers at Easter"
By Alison Stenlake at the NASUWT conference in Llandudno

Members of the biggest teachers' union have been accused by another union leader of helping to sully the public image of the profession.

The attack was made by Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the second biggest teachers' union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

He said the behaviour of delegates attending the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers had led to the "ritual crucifixion of teachers at Easter".

At the NUT conference delegates snubbed politicians by walking out of the conference hall, and voted for of a ballot of members on a one-day strike over performance-related pay.

The actions of these delegates had led to bad publicity for teachers which cast a shadow over the public's perception of the entire profession, Mr de Gruchy told his own union's annual conference, in Llandudno.

"Teachers get a lot of negative publicity at Easter. It's all because of one union that we get that negative publicity. There are other union conferences that take place," he said.

"It's five-to-one on the positive side, and it's about making that message get across, instead of the ritual crucifixion of teachers."

'Whingers not winners'

Mr de Gruchy's comments followed a speech to the conference by Lord Puttnam, chairman of the new General Teaching Council in England, which is to regulate teachers and promote the profession.

lord puttnam
Lord Puttnam: Told teachers to change their mindset
Lord Puttnam sent a coded warning to teachers to consider what image they presented to the public.

"You must take a significant responsibility for the future of your profession," he told them.

"The challenge is to avoid seeing oneself as a figure on which change is being continually imposed, and to take on the role of architect of that change."

He said he was constantly struck by how highly parents regarded their own children's teachers, but considered teachers more generally to be "whingers" rather than "winners".

"As a profession you have to develop a more enlightened attitude towards the way in which you are perceived by the public," he told delegates.

"I see improving the morale, status, and perception of the teaching profession as absolutely central to the role of the teaching council.

"If we fail, it won't be in any way for want of trying.

"Teachers are the singly most important people in this country. By working together we can set about making that particular reality obvious to everyone."

See also:

25 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
13 Apr 00 | UK Education
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