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Avoid empty gestures

The National Union of Teachers is a healthy, living body - and as such is very attractive to those who seek to pervert such organisations for their own ends. It is clearly essential that the members reassert their control over those structures of their union where this is occurring, and to prevent domination by unrepresentative factions.

Despite the positive achievements of the union, the range of knee-jerk reactions, leftist posturing and childish displays of temper which dominated the press coverage of our conference will have dismayed all those with a real concern for the defence of education.

The juvenile and destructive antics of some at conference are unrepresentative of the overwhelming majority of NUT members and the work they do at school, association, divisional and national levels. Also most structures of the union are not subject to this parasitic activity.

I was infuriated at their behaviour as it could lead to the disruption of positive work being done by the union to consolidate the united opposition of the whole education community - teachers, students, parents and governors - to the Government's destructive policies. In Derbyshire such opposition has been reflected in a broadly based campaign which has found expression in many activities, including the Derbyshire People's Lobby of Parliament, which took 3,000 Derbyshire people to London to voice their opposition. This united and spirited defence of education is planned to continue throughout the year, focusing on key issues - most immediately that of class size.

To substitute tokenistic industrial action for such broad and continuing campaigning can only be to the advantage of the enemies of education.

BILL GREENSHIELDS

President NUT Derbyshire division

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