Ghost of the test boycott reappears

14th April 1995 at 01:00
Motion 33 is the one expected to cause the fun and games at Blackpool this year.

Unfortunately for the headline-hungry papers which have begun to rely upon the National Union of Teachers' shenanigans to fill their front page on a newsless Bank Holiday, it is scheduled for Monday morning.

However, experience suggests that NUT activists have enough fireworks to last throughout the weekend.

Motion 33 concerns the national curriculum test boycott. It calls for the union to continue the action on the tests, but was written before the ballot which resulted in a three to one decision to do the tests because of concessions on workload.

The Left, accepting that the executive can claim the moral high ground, favours an amendment which calls for a special conference to discuss the outcome of the review on testing and assessment which the union has negotiated. This conference would determine the next step of the campaign.

Even so the event will be used by the political diehards to berate the executive for ending the action.

"I can't believe it is conference time already," said one weary NUT official.

Pat Hawkes, acting president, who will hand over the chains of office to John Bills, a primary headteacher, added: "At least the NUT has proper debates, unlike the stage-managed events orchestrated by the other unions."

One can only hope that Mr Bills, who referees school football matches, will be able to show the red card when he chairs the conference.

Perhaps he can take a leaf out of the book of rival National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy, who once awarded three penalties within 15 minutes of the only football game he ever blew the whistle in.

The NASUWT members heading southwards to Eastbourne share with the NUT a motion on class size which is expected to be the main issue of this Easter's conferences.

The NASUWT also has a motion which seeks to set down strict limits on working hours. The executive supports a call for a teacher's week to be no more than 35 hours and a ballot to initiate a vote on industrial action to define working hours.

Mr de Gruchy said he was sympathetic to the motion, but would prefer to set up a solid programme of action on class size before expending energy on a strategy for teacher hours.

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