BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable has been accused of making “crass and insulting” remarks by claiming that teachers know nothing about the world of work.
The comments made during a manufacturers’ conference are threatening to derail the Liberal Democrats efforts to woo teachers in the run up to the next General Election.
Talking about careers advice, Mr Cable had said: “The underlying problem is of course that most teachers, particularly in the secondary sector, are graduates.
“They know how universities work, they know what you have to do to get an A-level, they know about Ucas forms – but they know absolutely nothing about the world of work.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, branded the comments as “crass”.
She said: “As the Government’s own survey – published just last week – shows, teachers work an extraordinary number of hours and show real dedication to ‘the world of work’. Indeed, the teaching profession mirrors society and many of our teachers come from diverse backgrounds with different life experiences.
“They are a resource to the young people they teach, not a hindrance. The NUT is a strong supporter of 14-19 education and vocational education, including apprenticeships, and we have been calling for a coherent strategy from Government for many years. It is therefore difficult to take seriously the charge that it is teachers who are somehow failing young people, when it is in fact this Government that removed the Connexions career advice service and replaced it with websites and a phone line.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attempted to soothe anger among teachers yesterday.
In recent weeks the Lib Dems have made clear they do not agree with the Tories over allowing unqualified teachers in free schools, and attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove over his decision to replace the chairwoman of Ofsted.
Speaking on his regular LBC radio phone-in, the Liberal Democrat leader insisted his party colleague was a “huge admirer” of the profession – although he admitted he could have expressed himself better.