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Who are “Labour Teachers”, and why has Michael Gove praised them?

The Labour party is full of weird and wonderful groups of all shapes and sizes. If you’re active on social media, you may well have come across one particular example, the group that calls itself “Labour Teachers”.

You might have also been struck by a line from a speech by Michael Gove to teachers and heads last week:

I’m also an admirer of John Blake of Labour Teachers, who has transcended party politics to praise all schools which succeed for their pupils, even if they are academies or free schools…

We’re pretty sure we’re not the only ones to find this slightly concerning. Like Dan Hodges et cetera in the run-up to the London mayoral election last year, it seems pretty clear that Blake and “Labour Teachers” are being used by the Tories as “useful idiots” in divide and rule tactics. Tactics, as a wise parliamentarian once said, as old as colonialism!

But surely all these other “Labour Teachers” might be a bit concerned about being invoked in defence of the “miserable pipsqueak”? Who exactly are they? They are not a socialist society, like the Socialist Heath Association. We’ve already got one of them – the long-established Socialist Educational Association that plays a respected part in Labour’s structures and policy-making processes.

So why did the two activists – the aforementioned Blake and one John H. Taylor – named on the Labour Teachers website see the need to set up their own personal rival to the SEA? We turn to their Twitter page for help. Labour Teachers is a “space for teachers who support Labour to express and discuss ideas on education policy.” The website says they are “an online forum for discussion and debate – there is no “Labour Teachers policy”. Nice to have that cleared up.

But their Facebook account is a little more ambitious. They’re not just a website – they are a “grassroots movement”. You can feel the ground shake.

Perhaps when “Labour Teachers” have decided what they are, they can tell Michael Gove. Then he can avoid invoking the opinions of a man who supports trialling for-profit education as if he is a legitimate representative of every PGCE-holder in the Labour party.

2 Comments

  1. Hi, thanks for this. We’ve put a post up answering some of these questions on the site:

    http://www.labourteachers.org.uk/blog/2013/04/28/on-labour-teachers-and-labour-teachers/

    [Please note this link no longer works though the site is still there – Ed]

    On the Facebook group – it is essentially defunct, but it had in fact been changed, presumably just a little while after you wrote it and now (in as much as it is used) it matches the descriptions on the site.

    If you’ve any further questions or comment, please feel free to use the comments option on the post on the site or contact us. Our contact details are on the “About us” page of the site.

    Thanks – John Blake & John Taylor, Editors of Labour Teachers

  2. Ric Euteneuer says:

    It seems that John Blake is an “ATL” activist – *not* a member of Labour affiliated NASUWT or NUT – indeed John stood for the NUT Exec, didn’t get elected, and then left. His right, of course, but then one would imagine this to be somewhat contrary to normal Labour behaviour, to join a non-affiliated ‘trade union’ when he could have easily joined the NASUWT.

    Elsewhere on the web, Mr Blake advocates

    * Expanding the Free School programme (something the Party has opposed)
    * backing “for profit” schools
    * confirming Academies and free schools to remain outside LEA control
    * the Education Secretary (or Shadow) – should refuse to take the NUT’s calls – no sour grapes there, eh, John ?
    * Make full-time facilities time for teaching staff illegal (that’ll help the Unions out, won’t it – oh, sorry, I forgot, you’re not actually in a ‘union’ as such)
    * Setting up a Royal College of Teachers and bar members of union executives from places on its governing bodies (This just gets worse and worse. This is CONSERVATIVE party policy. It appears Mr Blake has a whole cupboard full of axes to grind against the NUT and NAS)

    I do also question someone using Labour Party logos without permission – would the Party be happy for me to set up a blog for Labour Education Officers without further reference to HQ ?

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