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Golly shock horror – teachers’ unions seek to improve working conditions for staff. The injunction to ‘Grow up and use some common sense!’ is depressingly typical of a political culture which seeks to demonise unions as irresponsible. It is all too reminiscent of the ‘enemy within’ trope of the 1980s and demonstrates an unwillingness to discuss problems reasonably and sensibly.

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It seems to me that permissible temperatures in classrooms is a topic which should be based on evidence not hyperbole. It is not difficult to test the unions’ argument that high classroom temperatures make students lethargic and unable to concentrate. My own experience of classroom teaching leads me to agree but I am sure the unions would welcome an independent analysis rather than ludicrous comparisons with front-line combat troops in Afghanistan. (Unless, of course we have discovered the real reason for Michael Gove’s advocacy of ex-service people in the classroom.)

Perhaps we could imagine, for just a moment, a political culture in which the elected representatives of teachers were heard by those in power. A culture where their views and concerns were taken seriously. A culture which recognised that successful classroom learning depended on staff that were trusted and valued.

This stretch of the imagination is so much at odds with current practice that it is profoundly difficult to get our heads around the idea that bringing teachers on board may actually improve teaching and learning in this country.

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