Show of strength under stress

10th March 1995 at 00:00
Teacher professionalism and concerns over funding were the central themes addressed by the leaders of the teaching unions at this year's Education Show, sponsored by The TES and the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

The general secretaries of the three biggest associations said a lobby of Parliament by teachers, parents and governors on March 21 would demonstrate a united voice against the Government.

In a keynote speech at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the past few years had seen the emergence of governors as a "sophisticated and powerful lobby group" promoting equal opportunities for children.

Similarly, he said, changes in legislation had revealed a committed teaching workforce which had overcome difficulties in working conditions "sometimes at great cost to themselves as individuals".

Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said any government claiming to see education and training as priorities should ensure the system is properly funded.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said that teachers as professionals should have no qualms about being involved in trade unions. He said the number of teachers to take early retirement had risen from 2,000 a year to 5,000 in the past five years. "If the number of accidents on the roads had risen by 3,000 something would be done about it," he added. "Our colleagues are being forced out by bad health because of what the Government has imposed."

About 480 exhibitors displayed their wares at the annual three-day event which was attended by some 14,500 visitors.

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