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Pandas against OFSTED

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers is giving the word moderate a new meaning after voting at its annual conference for the abolition of the Office for Standards in Education and the scrapping of the national curriculum in primary schools, and rejecting the Government's plans for increased selection.

One of the ATL's members is even pictured on the front cover of the latest education issue of Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

Although, to be fair, he was dressed as a panda as part of a Kirklees campaign against nursery vouchers.

The third largest teacher union voted in Torquay for an emergency motion which opposed any further extension of selection in response to a proposed White Paper which is expected to increase selection. This is despite the union representing more grammar school teachers than any other union.

Peter Smith, general secretary, said if grammar schools were created in every town, as the Prime Minister envisages, other schools would be in danger of becoming sink schools. He said: "This is a diversion. The real agenda is to improve the schools we have for all the children who go to them."

The union is also poised to join the Trades Union Congress after voting to consider applying.

It is unlikely however that the ATL will take over the militant mantle of the National Union of Teachers. But while this year's conference was seen as a victory for the Left of the NUT, the moderate Broad Left grouping and its supporters still have a majority on the executive and hold all the chairs and vice-chairs of committees.

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