Teacher unions are to blame

1st September 2000 at 01:00
I MUST take issue with Dennis Sale's attempt to defend the National Union of Teachers' recent High Court action against David Blunkett (TES, August 18). As a former NUT school representative, he is, I suspect, talking from the safe confines of the "retirement bunker". Had he still been in post he would have had to think twice about holding such a head-in-the-sand position.

The real problem was never the Secretary of State. It was the lack of unity in the union campaign to kill-off performance-related pay back in early 1999. None of the teacher unions conducted a nationwide ballot of their members to test the efficacy of PRP. If they had, the story may have been different.

Indeed, my own union leader (Peter Smith) tol Association of Teachers and Lecturers members in a TES feature last October to view PRP as a "positive" nettle to grasp. What bunkum! Thanks to him and the other lacklustre union general secretaries on their inflated pound;80,000-plus salaries, we've all been well and truly stung.

As a final rider to Mr Sale's faith in the wisdom of so-called teacher-union leaderships, let him be reminded that we now have performance-management reviews being quietly slipped into the already poisonous cocktail for us humble classroom-artisans. When the general secretaries seek re-election I think I know how most teachers will be voting.

Dr Christopher Knight

ATL representative

Bexleyheath school

Petts Wood, Kent


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