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Taking up slack left by my union

I WAS slightly bemused when I read the criticism directed at me by Nigel de Gruchy, the leader of my own union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (TES, May 12). I hope that I might make a few points clear.

Mr de Gruchy knows that I am very appreciative of the efforts that the teacher unions make on behalf of individual members, because I have made this clear in correspondence with him. However, this does not mean that the unions have done all that could and should be done on the key question of performance-related pay, which is of great concern to many teachers.

My article simply pointed to the disappointment and frustration felt by many with regard to the unions' perceived ineffectiveness on an issue of such importance.

In terms of the mandate given to me by my election to the General Teaching Council, may I say this: out of 134 candidates for secondary school paces, I came second in terms of first preferences - a result gained without any publicity from trades' unions. I can only assume that this was due to my electoral statement, which made explicit reference to my opposition to performance-related pay. In criticising me for speaking out on this subject, Mr de Gruchy seems to be asking me to ignore the clear wishes of those who voted for me, which is disappointing.

While I have every respect for Mr de Gruchy and the NASUWT, I would ask the union executive, on this occasion, to concentrate on debating the issues rather than simply questioning my right to be heard.

I am left wondering whether their sensitivity over PRP arises from their concern that there is at least some truth in what I am saying and that my views are shared by many teachers up and down the country.

Anthony Handley

204 Leahurst Road

Hither Green

London SE13

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