AN UNLIKELY character in the football world sided with teachers this week in attacking the amount of paperwork, bureaucracy and new initiatives they were forced to contend with.
Peter Ridsdale, chairman of Cardiff City Football Club and an active school governor, addressed members of the NUT Cymru at a one-off leadership conference held at Cardiff's Marriott hotel.
"I am stunned by the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that is distracting teachers," he told the audience, which responded with the biggest applause of the morning session.
Mr Ridsdale left as chairman of Leeds United AFC in 2003 with the club Pounds 103 million in the red and failing on the field. His classroom experience comes from his leadership of Education Leeds, a joint venture set up by the Government to run Leeds education authority from 2000 to 2003.
Mr Ridsdale, who left school with just one O-level, also said that children who did not do well academically could be uninspired by the current curriculum.
He offered the services of Cardiff City players to help motivate pupils, drawing on successful literacy and numeracy classes run at Elland Road in Leeds, where young people thrived learning in a football stadium.
Other speakers at the "Who Leads" conference included Steve Sinnott, the NUT's general secretary, and Steve Marshall, head of the department for education, culture and the Welsh language.
Full report next week