Gerard Kelly · TES

TES reloaded?

Since its revamp, have you noticed how the TES seems also to be shifting its political alignment? A few weeks ago, it ran a much more sympathetic piece on Chris Woodhead, former chief inspector of schools, than I’d have expected – notwithstanding the fact that Chris has motor-neurone disease.
This week, there’s an editorial entitled ‘The Red Flag has turned Burgundy. Unions must too’.  It is peppered with disapproval of the unions’ positions on a range of matters. Listen to this: ‘The biggest threat to the unions’ future, however, lies in their utter failure to be credible professionals. They talk excellence but tolerate mediocrity … They back school improvement but not at the expense of their branch network,’ and so on. Pretty strong stuff!
But the real sting in the tail comes towards the end, where it accuses union leaders of consigning the everyday detail of the job of teaching to the status of an afterthought. Their minds are set on higher things, such as the denunciation of the government, ‘so despicable it makes Herod look like Mary Poppins’. This, thunders Gerard Kelly, ‘is the language of ideological purists’; and he goes on to ask how unions are ‘supposed to appeal to the professional whose daily battles are a lot less epic, who loves teaching, who probably voted for the Tories, who packed in a good job to work in a school and who couldn’t give two hoots if it was called an academy’.
Whatever next? They might even begin to switch away from their slavish allegiance to the whole language lobby and towards the kind of balanced literacy teaching advocated by Sounds-Write.