NUT is not the villain it was made out to be

7th January 2011 at 00:00

Nice to see Gerard Kelly joining in the Christmas panto season in his editorial ("What a performance!", December 17) but it's a pity he decided to play an ugly sister.

He attacked Hackney NUT without appearing to have read his own journalist's story, which reported that Haggerston School was "on the up after admitting boys for the first time this term and introducing a sixth-form". These were the plans before Sir Michael Wilshaw - or Prince Charming, as Michael Gove sees him - appeared on the scene.

Put simply, Haggerston was an outstanding school six years ago under the leadership, at that time, of Dame Pat Collarbone. Nearly all of the present staff were there when Haggerston was a beacon school. Then followed two unfortunate headteacher appointments which resulted in bad budgeting and the threat of redundancies. These were successfully resisted and reversed by the Hackney NUT to produce the excellent staffing the school has now.

The NUT is opposed to academies because they remove the democratic link between parents and the community, as well as putting at risk our members' national terms and conditions of service. Our indicative ballot for action at Haggerston School took place at the same time as ballots at our other two community secondary schools, Stoke Newington and Clapton.

All three ballots were won by similar or larger majorities than Haggerston because our members and most parents in those schools want to remain within the local community school system.

Mr Kelly suggests that the NUT "appears to have forgotten that children are the point". Oh, no we haven't. Everybody likes a good panto metaphor but honestly, I don't think the union-bashing slipper fits.

Mark Lushington, Hackney NUT, London.

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