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There has never been a better time to argue back

Michael Gove refers to unnamed "leaders of teaching unions" who are said to believe that "children from poorer homes are so economically and socially disadvantaged that their fates are fixed before they even reach school". Can he produce the name of a leader who has said any such thing in the past 50 years?

Mr Gove dislikes teaching unions, with which I have nothing to do, because they try to protect teachers' conditions of service and, unlike some of the people on whom he appears to rely, have valuable advice to offer on educational matters. If Mr Gove honestly believes, sensibly enough, that "in the months and years to come, the best curricula will be developed and refined ... by teachers, for teachers", perhaps he should now persuade himself to stop tinkering with elements of a statutorily enforceable national curriculum. Parts of this are now in such an advanced state of dereliction that Mr Gove, again quite sensibly, has relieved independent state-funded academies from having to comply with it. Other schools seem to need permission to do that. Why so, Mr Gove?

Sir Peter Newsam, North Yorkshire.

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