Teachers accused of talking up crisis in profession

Nicky Morgan. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Nicky Morgan. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
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TEACHERS HAVE been accused of talking up a “crisis” in the profession by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan in a speech to a major teaching union.

Addressing the annual NASUWT conference on Saturday - the first Conservative Education Secretary to do so since 1997 - Ms Morgan said: “Teachers are the pinnacle of the community, charged with the greatest of responsibilities, moulding the next generation.”

But she told teachers there would be “no pulling back” and “no reverse gear” on the Government’s education reforms, including the controversial roll-out of academy schools in England.

In comments that raised heckles and jeers around the conference hall in Birmingham, Ms Morgan also accused the NASUWT of peddling too much negative comment about the state of the profession, teacher retention and recruitment.

She said: “If I were a young person making a decision about my future career and I saw some of the language coming out from the NASUWT as well as some of the other unions, would I want to become a teacher?”

Ms Morgan went on: “If I read about a profession ‘standing on the precipice of a crisis’, would I consider a life in teaching? - No I would not.”

The comments were greeted with consternation by many delegates, one of whom shouted back: “Has the penny dropped yet?”

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates told Ms Morgan she was glad not to have to see her predecessor Michael Gove, quipping: “As is so often the case, it’s a man who creates the mess and a woman who is left to pick up the pieces.”But responding directly to the Education Secretary, she earned loud applause saying: “As a result of Government failure to tackle this issue, we do now have the worst teaching supply crisis since 1945.

“That’s not because we want to talk down the teaching profession, Nicky, it’s because we care.”

Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw recently suggested salaries of school leaders should be publicised to entice more people into the profession.