The Week

29th April 2011 at 01:00
The week in education

Unsurprisingly, there was only one education story in town this week, once fallout from the exclusive in last week's TES on CofE school admissions being opened up to the non-faithful had died down. This was, of course, fury over almost anything at both the NASUWT and NUT conferences.

It wasn't, however, the most earth-shattering weekend when it came to generating big unpredictable headlines. Normally, at least one story emerges that surprises the cynical old bunch that inhabit the conference press room and generates some lively column inches. But that really wasn't the case this year. You didn't need to be a palm reader to foresee that delegates from both organisations would be most animated over their pensions. And thus it came to pass. The idea that teachers will soon be holding a national strike in a last-ditch bid to protect their final- salary retirement plans has now gained its own runaway-train-style narrative and looks inevitable.

It was a relief, therefore, that the rather time-worn conferences were enlivened on Easter Monday by 15-year-old Joe Cotton, the first pupil to address the NUT. His tub-thumping attack on the Government's abolition of the EMA really got the crowd going. But it remains to be seen whether he - or indeed his teacher parents - will be too chuffed with the media's predictable comparison to the youthful William Hague's 1977 speech to the Tory faithful.

While on the subject of classroom unions, it's worth noting that the ever- angry competition between the big two over support has now gone virtual. To prove a point, there is now a race to gain the most Twitter followers, news of which reached the NUT's conference podium. For the record (as of Tuesday morning), @nasuwtunion has 1,242 and @nutonline 2,004. Apparently this says something about importance and influence.

And to put this in perspective, the totally unofficial Twitter feed @royalwedding, which dishes out reheated sentimental old twaddle about the happy couple, has 17,183 followers, and the ever-brilliant @timesed can boast nearly 10,000. So e-union officers have a fair way to go before they can begin to brag with any justification.

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