In a bid to ease relations with the teaching profession, the education secretary Michael Gove lavished praise on teachers this morning stating they were the “unacknowledged legislators of mankind”.
The relationship between the Department for Education and teachers is at an all time low, and with the threat of strikes looming on the horizon, the minister chose to borrow the words of Romantic poet Percy Shelley to applaud the workforce in his first major speech of the new academic year.
Speaking this morning at the right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange, Mr Gove gave thanks to his own former teachers and went on to express his gratitude to “the amazing work” being done by teachers today as they start the new school year this week.
“I am fortunate as education secretary because we have the best generation of teachers ever in our classrooms – including the very best generation ever of young teachers, in those who have entered our classrooms over the last few years,” he said.
“Whenever I can, I give thanks for their work - not just privately, but on any public platform I'm given. Including this one,” he added.
Mr Gove’s words are set against a backdrop of growing unrest among classroom unions with regional strikes planned in October and national walkouts proposed towards the end of term in protest over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Before the summer it was claimed the Cabinet member would embark on a charm offensive toward teachers in a bid to thaw what has become an increasingly frosty relationship between his department and the profession.
So in extolling the virtues of teachers, he described them as the most “important fighters” and the “critical guardians” of the future success and intellectual prowess of the country.
“It is teachers, not poets, who are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind,” Mr Gove said before adding, “And it is because the teaching profession is so crucial that our programme of education reform has been designed to empower teachers; to give them more freedom, more power and more prestige.”