"Twisted militant" teacher strikes are about ideology not students
The Education Secretary Michael Gove has accused the teacher trade unions of "twisted militant logic" in their decision to strike against performance related pay.
The strikes, which saw thousands of school closures in 48 authorities in the east of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside, were against pay, pensions and workloads.
Gove said at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that the trade unions were putting their ideology above British children's interests, preventing good teachers being paid the money they deserve and standing in the way of progress.
"There is one group of people who I can't thank. They're the people who are standing in the way of progress. They're the people who are the enemies of promise", he said.
"While we gather here today [...] the leaders of the militant teaching unions have gone out on strike.
"And the reason that they have gone out on strike in a new example of a twisted militant logic, is that they want to stop good teachers being paid more money. They are striking against the growth and potential of poor children".
"Children lose a day of education, parents have to scrabble to pay more for expensive child care and the prestige of the teaching profession, which we all want to see re-enforced and built up, takes a knock".
Speaking to Tory delegates, he said the Conservative Party was the party of "social justice in Great Britain" with an education policy that is "modern, progressive, radical and mainstream".
"Our exams can stand in comparison with the most rigorous in the world", he said, "and youth unemployment is at last being tackled head on".
Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, who have taken part in the strikes, said: "We are of course sorry for the disruption it causes to both parents and pupils. However, many parents are very supportive of NUT positions".
She added: “Michael Gove’s words of praise for the teaching profession will ring very hollow indeed amongst teachers. This Education Secretary has angered and demoralised the whole profession. He really does need to listen to our concerns and many parents agree".