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30th May 2008 at 01:00
Barry Sheerman could be excused for being a bit jaded after seven years leading the Commons' select committee for children, schools and families
Barry Sheerman could be excused for being a bit jaded after seven years leading the Commons' select committee for children, schools and families. But recent comments by the Labour MP for Huddersfield show that he has grown feisty.

In the past few weeks, Mr Sheerman has been forthright with his views on testing, Ofsted and early years, and now he is preparing to take on the national curriculum.

When the committee examined the early years foundation stage last week, Mr Sheerman appeared delighted by the passionate comments made on the new curriculum - even thanking speakers for being "nicely anarchic".

In January he threatened to have Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, reprimanded for missing one of his committee's sessions.

This month Christine Gilbert, chief schools inspector, appeared at the committee without coercion. But she did not get an easy ride. Mr Sheerman seemed grumpy that neither she nor any of her staff had bothered to read the committee's damning report on testing.

He also told her that Ofsted needed to be more cutting edge. "You seem to have a rosier view of what is going on out there than we have," he said.

After his treatment of the two Christines, we hope Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, isn't getting too nervous.

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