By Hilary White

MANCHESTER, March 26, 2008 ( – At their Manchester conference this week, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the largest teachers’ union in the UK, have called for the abolition of single-faith schools and for clergy of every religion to be brought into classrooms. At this weekend’s NUT conference in Manchester, the union said that continuing to support schools of individual religions was “unjust and unsustainable” and would undermine race relations. The NUT, Britain’s largest and most influential teachers’ union, continues to lead the extreme left wing in Britain’s teaching professions.

Under the NUT proposal, schools should bring in imams, rabbis and priests to mollify parental demands for religious instruction in schools but specifically in order to prevent the establishment of new single-faith schools. Reflecting a government instruction that no religious or moral values should be taught to students as though they are objectively true, the NUT proposals would see all schools become “multi-faith” institutions in which no one religion is presented as true. Schools moreover should be stripped of their powers to control their own admissions and select pupils according to their faith.

A spokesman for the Church of England said, “Religious instruction belongs with the religious institutions, the churches, the mosques, the temples. It is for religions to teach their faith to people; it is for schools to teach about religion.” There are 7,000 single-faith schools supported with public funds in England, most of which are run by the established Church of England and the Catholic Church.

Other high priority issues the various teaching organisations discussed at their Easter conferences were rising levels of disruptive behaviour from students, including violent drug-related knife and gun crimes, increasing “family hostility” to education, ungovernable “spoilt little princes and princesses” in classrooms, and a desperate shortage of teaching staff.

The National Association of Schoolmasters, Union Of Women Teachers (NASUWT) concluded that the problem is a materialistic “culture of immediacy” that supplies children and teens with whatever they want and that results in “spoilt little princes and princesses,” whose parents are part of an anti-intellectual milieu, disillusioned with education as a means of escaping poverty.

Statistics show that many people train as teachers, only to leave the profession after a few years.

NUT members also put forward a list of proposals, asking for a return to the discredited educational experiments of the past 30 years. They asked the government for a return to the more “liberal” approach to teaching literacy that was adopted in the 1970s and 80s, saying that the more structured phonics method was too mechanistic and turned children off reading.

The NUT’s request contradicts a government turn-around that abandoned the experimental methods – in which children were taught in some cases to guess at words and memorise them by their shape – as a dismal failure that must be replaced by phonics “first and fast”.

The NUT also attacked what it called the “misleading propaganda” offered by military recruitment teams when they visit schools, accusing them of “luring” young people into military service and “glamorising war”. In Britain, a military career is still seen by many from underprivileged backgrounds as a way out of the poverty trap and a door into well-trained trades and professions.

The NUT’s attack on the military comes at the same time as some members of the Royal Air Force are being asked not to appear in their off duty hours wearing their uniforms due to “abuse” and attacks from the public.

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