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UNIONS SLAM BLAIR FOR ATTACKING 'MORALE' OF INNER CITY TEACHERS

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Prime minster Tony Blair's attack on standards in inner city schools provoked angry reactions from teachers and uni...
Prime minster Tony Blair's attack on standards in inner city schools provoked angry reactions from teachers and union leaders, reports The Guardian (p2).

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: 'We will never solve the problems which besets inner city schools by encouraging parents to desert them, or to vote with their feet and join the private sector.'

While Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, believed there was 'an element of self justification in Mr Blair's words'.

And Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the Natinoal Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said the remarks had done 'nothing for the morale of inner city teachers and parents'.

Mr Blair yesterday launched a series of consultation papers on plans to introduce performance-related pay (see LGCnet).

'When I look at some of the inner city schools, it is no wonder that parents feel they have to move their children out, and some feel they have to make other arrangements for their children. It's just not acceptable,' he said.

Marion Parsons, headteacher of Islington Green School in north London, said: 'Comments like that are not helpful; they give the impression that there is a simple answer to the problem of inner city schools. That is simply not true.'

She added: 'There are times when I feel like Churchill. The teachers here are remarkable, they have been through a hell of a lot but we keep asking them to give more. They have to deal with kids who don't respect authority, they don't respect their parents, they don't respect anybody.'

The Times (p2) quotes John Dunford, general secretary of the School Heads Association, who says: 'This is the sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that makes it difficult for schools to succeed in inner cities. The prime minister should be leading the state education system, not undermining it.'

The Daily Telegraph (p5) reports on a survey by Mintel, the market research specialist, that claims private school fees have increased by 280% between 1988 and 1998.

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