THE FORMER leader of the smallest classroom teachers' union has launched an astonishing attack on his colleagues, 10 months after leaving his post.
John Andrews, who was general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers for five years, broke his silence to clarify speculation surrounding his departure.
He branded the no-strike union as "amateurish" and said that it "risked being left behind" unless its structures and attitudes were up-dated.
Mr Andrews, who left with an Pounds 80,000 pay-off, said he felt no acrimony but believed not all of his former colleagues felt the same. He said wranglings over his modernisation plans led to his departure.
"I felt we had to decide on our niche market, and to focus more clearly on what is happening here and now, and not what went on yesterday.
"However, there is still a wish by many to return to some golden era of teaching; a propensity by some to want to belong to an organisation which has a certain amateurish touch to it because it makes them more comfortable."
Latest membership figures show that there are just over 35,000 members in PAT, compared with 40,000 five years ago.
Mr Andrews said the union had a future, and that its no-strike stance was still relevant, but it needed to recruit more teachers in their 20s and 30s.
"PAT needs to examine the image it is creating, and to sharpen it up," he said.
More positively he believes the inclusion of nursery nurses gives it a significance in national negotiations in the light of Government's emphasis on under-fives.
In response, the PAT's deputy general secretary, David Jones, said: "The association's agreement with John Andrews contained, on his initiative, a confidentiality clause, and we do not intend to trespass on that. We are saddened that John Andrews has seen fit to renege on his agreement. Comment about his departure would be inappropriate."