Secretary of State for a day

14th April 2006 at 01:00
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers If you were Education Secretary for a day, what would you do?

I would make it a duty for local authorities to enforce fair admissions procedures for all schools. Schools with balanced intakes do well for all groups: the most able, the middle range and the least able. If we really are to make a difference, if standards really are to rise for all, we need schools which are socially mixed, in which peer group pressure can be used effectively to open minds, change outlooks and raise aspirations. Schools which do not have this mix always struggle.

Inspirational leadership can change things for a while, but a sustainable change requires a change in intake. This single measure would do more to raise educational standards than any other.

How many points out of 10 would you give to Ruth Kelly (and why)?

* For working with education unions in social partnership: 910

* For the new measures on discipline in the Education Bill: 810

* For keeping going under a very nasty and sustained media witch hunt: 810

* For measures to increase choice and diversity in education, including trust schools: 210

What makes your union the best choice for teachers?

The ATL is the leading education union. We are as strong on educational issues as we are on pay and conditions. Most importantly, we are a member-led union and our policy-making processes put teachers, lecturers and support staff first. We have an unrivalled range of publications to support members, run excellent training courses on educational and organisational issues, and provide an outstanding personal service to members who experience professional difficulties and challenges.

Whatever happened to teacher unity?

A move towards merging teaching unions was rejected by the ATL's executive committee. Any future decisions on this issue will be taken by the membership of the union.

Which fictionalhistorical character do you identify with most? Commander Samuel Vimes, Chief of the City Watch in Ank Morpork, the fictional city in Terry Pratchett's Disk World novels. He achieves success by motivating people, by leading from the front and by taking responsibility for his actions. He also has a healthy distrust of all forms of authority and bureaucracy. I quote his famous words: "Planning is what most people do instead of thinking" - Ofsted please take note.

What keeps you awake at night?

Writing my speech for the ATL's annual conference.

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