The week

17th April 2009 at 01:00

Rarely has teacher union conference season provoked such an angry backlash. The NUT voted unanimously to boycott Sats - a move The Times described as "a depressing case of union leadership grandstanding from an ideological time warp ... grossly irresponsible, highly damaging to school standards and probably illegal". The Daily Mail was concerned by the poor example to children set by NUT members inside the Cardiff conference hall. "Listening to the howling, chanting, cheering mob ... it's easy to see why standards have deteriorated". Obviously, pupils spend their Easter holidays glued to coverage of teacher union debates.

The NUT's call for a 10 per cent pay rise sparked even more upset. The Mirror reported accusations that teachers were "on another planet", while The Independent called it "spectacularly ill judged" during a recession. The public response on websites was angrier still. One poster on The Guardian's site suggested: "How about 0.5 per cent if they give up lunch-box snooping and shopping days, and get over their collective phobia of snow flakes?" Ouch.

The NUT conference also heard that an unnamed secondary school had employed bouncers as cover supervisors. The Sun suggested bouncers were necessary because "schools are now so dangerous". But Andrew Baisley, a secondary maths teacher from London, revealed the case specifically to make the opposite point: that the pupils required qualified teachers, rather than "crowd control".

The Conservatives trashed an independent report on pupil behaviour because, in an appendix, it listed a series of 50 short activities for lessons, a handful inspired by TV programmes. But why such annoyance at former headteacher Sir Alan Steer's report, launched at the NASUWT conference? Surely not because it said scrapping exclusion appeals panels would be legally disastrous for schools - and that's the Tories' key behaviour policy ...

A new website to help UK teachers share resources was described as potentially "radical" by The Guardian. The National Digital Resources Bank, pioneered in Spain and part-funded by the EU, will cost about Pounds 500,000 a year to run. So teachers could wait for that - or they could use, erm ... the existing TES Resources bank (www.tes.co.ukresources) which is free, has more than a million teaching resources downloaded off it a month and does not require each resource to be vetted by a local authority. But we're biased.

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