The Birmingham Post (p3) reports that Mr Woodhead believes unions give the public the wrong impression that teachers were whingers.
He said: 'I visit two or three schools a week and in the vast majority the character is positive. There is not a culture of despondency.
'It is more that sometimes teachers' leaders, in moaning all the time, create an impression of a moaning, whingeing profession.
Mr Woodhead said that although it was the job of unions to protect members' interests, it might be better to focus on their achievements and admit to any problems that existed.
But Bob Grainger, secretary of the Walsall branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'He is trying to create the impression that the unions are out of touch, when it is he and the government who are out of touch.
'They are finding that there is a massive amount of resistance on the ground to a lot of things that are happening. Mr Woodhead is trying to undermine the teaching unions and the profession.'