MARTIN ON RADIO FIVE LIVE
There must be a General Election on the way - the politicians are trying to sell us their latest gimmicks ! In this case, it's the Tories, trying to convince voters that they can solve behaviour problems in schools - by making pupils wear blazers ! If only it were that simple...
On Monday night, I was invited to join the panel on BBC Radio 5's Anita Anard show to discuss the issue. I'm always pleased to take such an opportunity to put a case on behalf of teachers to their listeners.
I have been invited on to several similar shows over the years. Presumably, the producers recognise me as somebody who can put over a clear but good-humoured argument. However, this was the easiest argument I've ever had to win !
Of course, anybody who understands education (unfortunately that often doesn't include education ministers and shadow ministers) knows that whether a pupil is wearing a blazer or not is so far down any list of key factors that it isn't really worth spending time debating. However, given the chance, I hope that I was able to raise some of the real issues - like having an enjoyable curriculum, enthused teachers with the time to build a relationship with individual pupils, class sizes, selection and child poverty.
All the calls and e-mails in to the studio joined me in ridiculing the Tory proposal. Even a Conservative councillor who rang in rejected it as nonsense ! It was good fun to have a chance to have a laugh at the expense of the Tories in the week of their Party Conference.
Of course, few teachers will have any more confidence in the other main parties either. That's why I will continue to argue for the NUT to set up a political fund, not just to combat the BNP, but also to be able to support trade union-backed candidates defending education against the privatising policies of all the main parties. After all, if the election is called, many colleagues will be wondering who there is that's worth voting for. That's why I also support the Campaign for a New Workers' Party calling for the trade unions to put their authority behind a new party that can offer a real challenge to the main parties that most voters have presently got to choose between.
The show was also further evidence that, if we explain our case clearly, parents and the public will support our campaigns for a good education for every child.