Nicky Morgan Heckled And Laughed At By Teachers At NASUWT Conference In Birmingham

'Be more helpful.'

26/03/2016 13:19 | Updated 26 March 2016

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was laughed at and heckled on Saturday when she told teachers that schools had improved over the last five years.

The Tory minister also angered teachers as she urged unions to "be more helpful" and not issue press releases that relay negative news.

Morgan was addressing the NASUWT teachers' conferences in Birmingham. She is the first Tory Education Secretary to address the NASUWT conference in nearly a decade. 

BBC
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was laughed at and heckled at the NSAUWT conference on Saturday.

But her reception did not go down well with teachers, many of whom oppose the government's plans to turn all schools in England into academies.

Morgan said: "None of us can or should want to deny that the education system is in much better shape than it was five years ago. 

"The evidence speaks for itself. Compared with 2012..."

As Morgan was interrupted, she retorted: "You should listen to your achievements."

Morgan also lambasted the teachers' union for some of its most recent press releases, which she claims were overwhelmingly negative.

She said: "I visited the NASUWT website recently and found that of the last 20 press releases that the NASUWT had issued, only three said something positive.

"Wouldn't it be more helpful if your press releases were actually positive?"

The minister's comments evoked fierce laughter from the crowd.

Morgan smile, and persisted with her speech: "Wouldn't it be more helpful if your press releases were actually positive about the teaching profession? Because if I were a young person making a decision about my future career and I saw some of the language coming out... would I want to become a teacher?"

A song mocking Morgan surfaced online today.

The song, released by a teacher’s punk rock group, was written in protest at the academisation of schools and the “pressures on teachers”.

The government has announced plans to turn every school in England into an academy by 2020. 

The plan is widely criticised by teachers' unions, including the National Union of Teachers (NUT), which is currently meeting for its annual conference in Brighton this weekend.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney sent an open letter to Morgan on Wednesday, outlining concerns that the Department for Education's plans are founded on scant evidence.

In the letter, he wrote: "You propose the forcible academisation of 17,000 primary schools. However, and astonishing for such a far-reaching proposal, there is no evidence section in the White Paper to support this belief.

"Can you explain why you have not produced evidence which shows academy schools doing better than comparable local authority schools?"

In an address to journalists at the NUT's spring conference in Brighton, Courtney said the department was misleading people by comparing the progress of sponsored academies – failing state schools forced to become an academy as part of a government intervention strategy – with successful local authority control schools.

He said: "They (the department) have given us absolutely tortured statistics to justify this huge proposal. They say the results show primary-sponsored academies opened for two years have improved their results by 10%, more than double the rate of improvement in local authority-maintained schools.

"That is statistically meaningless. They are not comparing like for like."

He said the real comparison should be between struggling academies and struggling local authority-maintained schools.  

In its White Paper, the Department for Education said it believed that "the fastest and most sustainable way for schools to improve is for government to trust this country's most effective education leaders, giving them freedom and power, and holding them to account for unapologetically high standards for every child, measured rigorously and fairly". 

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