Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT blogs about his thoughts and passions and the work of the National Association of Head Teachers.
After reflecting on a highly successful conference, I thought it worth making a brief statement about Michael Gove's appearance and subsequent article.
We had a difficult exchange with the Secretary of State on Saturday (May 18) when provocative statements from the minister - in particular when he seemed unaware of the impact of sickness during SATs week - provoked disbelief and anger from delegates in what was otherwise a highly productive and optimistic conference. I must admit that I nearly dropped my glass myself when I heard that.
We have enough respect for others to realise that just because we disagree with someone does not mean their motives are bad, so we will try to correct any mistaken views gently, continuing to work with government to improve policy.
As others have pointed out, in a sector riven with ideology, NAHT has always made constructive points, welcomed positive change and suggested alternatives.
The Secretary of State is familiar with our school improvement project, Aspire. Conference also spent a lot of time debating ideas for improving Ofsted and the very high expectations for heads published in our Leadership Compact.
We have been in discussions with the Education Department in the weeks preceding conference for an approach to the floor standards that could go beyond anything the government has attempted. And we discussed 10 proposals for rebuilding confidence when we last met the Secretary of State. When we criticise tests like the phonics screening check, it is because the government's own independent evaluation says it does little to raise standards. That's real evidence (from NfER, not a hotel chain).
For our own part, I will say that it is important that heads talk less about the (very real) stress that they feel under the current system and more about the negative impact on children of the changes. There is plenty to be said on that.
Taken as a whole, we're doing our bit for a better debate in education and will continue to do so. We can only hope others join in. Personal attacks on dedicated and successful public servants, who have always put children first, are not, however, the way to go about it.