DELEGATES AT the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference voted almost unanimously for a resolution calling for an immediate end to sanctions on Iraq. Lorraine Hunte from Croydon described how sanctions are directly responsible for the deaths of between 4,000 and 5,000 Iraqi children every month. Delegates defeated an attempt by the NUT executive to weaken the motion, and voted for outright opposition to sanctions by a three to one majority. A meeting in support of the Palestinians later drew about 100 people and laid out plans to take the issue to teachers and school students.
TORY EDUCATION spokesperson Theresa May was greeted with hoots of derision at the conference when she said she would be "the next Secretary of State for Education".
She resembled a pantomime baddie-spouting mad policies and insults which no one could take seriously. But her attempt to make capital out of concerns about allegations by children against teachers should put everyone on guard. There has been a threefold increase in allegations of misconduct over the past decade. Most of these are proven to be unfounded.
But the procedures adopted by school managements and local education authorities can mean teachers being suspended from work for months before they are cleared. May sought to tap teachers' frustration by lashing out at "pupil indiscipline" and calling for more exclusions of children from school. Blunkett offered a fast track to deal with abuse claims when he spoke to delegates.
But neither Blunkett nor May acknowledged that Tory and New Labour policies have alienated large numbers of young people from education. Bernard Regan from Westminster told delegates, "If there is a problem of pupils' alienation then the blame for that has to be laid at the narrow curriculum."
- Full conference report next week