BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Education  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 30 September, 1998, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Blair challenges teachers
Tony Blair
Tony Blair lays down the challenge to the teaching profession
Tony Blair has promised the most fundamental reform of the teaching profession since state education began.

In his speech to the Labour Party conference in Blackpool, the prime minister urged teachers to drop their opposition to payment by results.

A consulation paper on the future of teachers' pay is expected this autumn, while government advisers have confirmed that 20,000 extra classroom assistants are to be employed at schools across England from next April.

In his address to the conference, Mr Blair hailed the government's education achievements, including the securing of an extra 19bn over the next three years and a sharp fall in infant class sizes.

But he insisted that money was not the answer to every problem.

David Blunkett
The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, applauds Mr Blair's speech
"There are too few good state schools, too much tolerance of mediocrity, too little pursuit of excellence," he said.

"If a headteacher rises to the challenge of turning round a failing school, why shouldn't they earn 60,000 to 70,000 a year?

"And equally, if they can't run the school properly, they shouldn't be running the school at all."

Mr Blair called on teachers' organisations to end their opposition to plans to close and re-open failing schools.

And he urged them to support the involvement of private business in the partnerships which have taken over clusters of poorly performing schools in education zones.

"Work with us to get it done. Don't tell us we're unprincipled and unjust, for there is no greater injustice to inflict upon a child than a poor education."

Union criticism

Mr Blair's comments drew criticism from the General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. David Hart said that he regretted "swingeing criticism of state schools when we are desperately trying to recruit young teachers".

The issue that needed to be addressed, he said, was making sure that successful headteachers were rewarded with "decent salaries".

The General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Doug McAvoy, welcomed an "inspiring speech, powerfully put". But he cautioned the Prime Minister that the teaching profession could feel "excluded from the great visions".

"Teachers will believe that Blair sees them as a problem and not a solution. I want the Prime Minister to back his declared commitment to education with a recognition that he must carry teachers with him."

The Secondary Heads Association's general secretary, John Dunford, broadly welcomed the Prime Minister's proposals for rewarding successful headteachers, as long as success was not measured only by exam results.

The General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Peter Smith, said: "Teachers will say ' Fine words, but the jury is out.'

"But at least the prime minister realises how important schools are, and he realises that if you want good head and classroom teachers, they must be rewarded well."

The Education and Employment Secretary, David Blunkett, said: "I thought it was an excellent speech - a tour de force covering all the major challenges of the new century - and the Labour Government is committed to achieving that challenge.

"I accept that challenge and with the resources we have got and with the commitment of teachers, parents and the community, we will make it work," he said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
Tony Blair: "There are too few good state schools"
See also:

02 Jun 98 | UK Education
17 Jul 98 | UK Education
23 Jun 98 | UK Education
29 Sep 98 | UK Education
19 Jul 98 | UK Education
24 Sep 98 | UK Education
29 Sep 98 | UK Education
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes