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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
Morris resignation 'a tragedy'
Education Secretary Estelle Morris
Morris was "absolutely sure" she wanted to go
The resignation of Education Secretary Estelle Morris was welcomed enthusiastically by the Conservatives - but branded "a tragedy" by one teachers' union.

Ms Morris quit after mounting pressure over her handling of the A level marking fiasco, a row over expelled pupils and primary school targets.


It's a tragedy for her and a tragedy for the education service

David Hart, National Association of Head Teachers

Shadow education secretary Damian Green said Ms Morris's failure was "the failure of the government's education policy".

"Her resignation is welcome but overdue," he said. "She has lost the confidence of parents and pupils in her ability to run our schools.

"In a few short months the government has undermined the credibility of A-levels, the gold standard of secondary education. And this summer Labour turned university admissions into a lottery for thousands of families."

Mr Green said Labour had weakened the authority of headteachers and governors as they tried to uphold discipline in the classroom.

"Only this week Estelle Morris sought to wriggle out of a promise she made to resign from the government for failing to meet her own targets for primary school standards," he said.

"Tony Blair should realise that a game of ministerial musical chairs will not be enough to remedy his failure to deliver on promises made to build a world class education system."


She has lost the confidence of parents and pupils in her ability to run our schools

Shadow education secretary Damian Green
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I think it's a tragedy for her and a tragedy for the education service.

"She made mistakes but it would be difficult to find somebody as committed as her to the education service.

"I only hope the government has the sense to replace her with somebody who shows equal commitment and passion for education, because that is what we desperately need at the moment.

"I'm really very sad."

"Great pity"

And Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "She was a minister who cared about education and understood the problems teachers faced.

"She hasn't always done everything that we would wish - no government minister ever will.

"It's a great pity that she has decided to go. On too many occasions, the Education Department's position has been too highly influenced by the wishes of Downing Street rather than the needs of the service.

"Estelle fought hard to prevent that."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said he was "personally sorry" for Ms Morris, but she had lost the trust of parents, pupils and members of the teaching profession.

"Her resignation is an opportunity for a fresh start for the government's entire approach to the education system," he said.

QCA chief executive Ken Boston said: "QCA very much regrets the resignation of Estelle Morris.

"We are presently working hard to rebuild confidence in the A-level system."


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22 Oct 02 | Education
21 Oct 02 | Education
26 Sep 02 | Education
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