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PM holds out olive branch to NUT

GORDON BROWN's representatives have held out an olive branch to the biggest teachers' union, making a move that could eventually see it resume normal relations with the Government.

The new Prime Minister is keen to take an inclusive approach in education.

It is understood this includes attempting reconciliation with the National Union of Teachers, which last week had its first attempt to sue the Government for excluding it from pay talks turned down by the High Court.

The TES has learned that initial telephone calls took place between Mr Brown's camp and the NUT in the run up to the prime ministerial handover.

But formal talks have yet to take place and there are significant obstacles to be overcome before the NUT can be welcomed back into the fold, not least opposition from other teaching unions.

Mary Bousted, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' general secretary, said: "If the NUT wants to resume a relationship with the Government, then they have got to sign up to the principles underpinning social partnership."

The union has been in the wilderness since January 2003, when its refusal to back the school workforce agreement led to its exclusion from the partnership of government, employers and school staff unions set up to oversee the deal's implementation.

In 2004 the partnership arrangement was extended to pay talks and the union was again left out for refusing to sign up to the concept of performance related pay.

Since then two changes of education secretary gave hope within the union that a rapprochement would be possible. But it was not.

Now senior figures within the NUT believe Mr Brown could help break the impasse. However, one warned that there was no way the union would say it had been wrong about the workforce deal.

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