Nick Clegg has called for the government to bring an end its “acrimonious” relationship with teachers by tackling the rising workload faced by the profession.
In an exclusive interview with TES, the deputy prime minister claimed that the departure of Michael Gove had created an opportunity to “turn the page” and bring to an end the war of words between the Department for Education and the teaching unions under the controversial former education secretary’s watch, which he said had left many teachers feeling “browbeaten and that they are not properly valued”.
“I think it’s an opportunity to turn a page on the somewhat acrimonious relationship that existed between the government, and the Department for Education in particular, and a number of teachers,” he said. “I think we now need to reset the relationship. Not, I should stress, by summarily abandoning all government policy or reforms, but first and foremost by ensuring that, where there is debate and discussion between the teaching profession and government, it is conducted in a spirit and tone of mutual respect. And that we seek out every opportunity to celebrate, and not always seek to denigrate, the fantastic work that teachers do.”
Mr Clegg also said he was “increasingly concerned” by the rising workloads faced by teachers. “I’ve met too many teachers now who feel somewhat beleaguered by the amount of administrative form filling, some of which they don’t feel makes much sense, or is repetitive or is somehow seeking to second-guess their professional judgement,” he said, and pledged to engage with the trade unions to reduce red tape.
The Liberal Democrat leader also admitted that he had clashed with Mr Gove on “a number of important substantive issues”, and hit out at his former special adviser Dominic Cummings, describing his public criticism of key Lib Dem policies, such as the introduction of universal free school meals, as “insulting, disrespectful and unhelpful”.
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