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Union fails to impress Kelly

"Nought out of 10" was Education Secretary Ruth Kelly's verdict as Britain's most moderate teaching union kicked off the silly season with a call to abolish the word "fail" from education.

Liz Beattie, a retired primary teacher from Ipswich, will propose its replacement with the term "deferred success", in a motion to be discussed at next week's Professional Association of Teachers' conference in Buxton.

The 68-year-old said: "Some children who have a problem are being turned off the whole education process almost before they have embarked on it simply because failure is a thing they see quite a lot of." But Ms Kelly said: "For that particular proposal, I think I might give them nought out of 10.

"To be quite honest, I think it's really important for young people to grow up with the ability to get on and achieve, but also to find out what failure is."

The motion only adds to the eccentric reputation of a union that has previously called for dogs to be used as teaching assistants and for the creation of a secretary of state for removal of body hair.

Delegates are also expected to call for children's TV producers to consider the way language is used in their programmes.

Peter Morris, an IT teacher from Swansea, who is seconding the motion, said he wanted children to learn "good old-fashioned English" with correct grammar.

"Children copy things they hear on TV," he said. "Their heroes are now people like Del and Rodney, but I would prefer Dixon of Dock Green."

Other motions include a call for legislation to make parents more responsible for sex education, a condemnation of the idea that criminal tendencies can be spotted in nursery children, a call for the abolition of national tests for 11-year-olds and a cautious welcome for academies.

Jacqui Morris, schools minister, is due to address delegates on Tuesday.

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