Last week the Education Act 2011 was granted Royal Assent. The new legislation covers many different aspects of education from discipline to post-16 education, teacher training and the closing and opening of schools.
The Education Secretary now has the power to close down a school that is perceived to be failing without having to consult with local authorities first. This power, says the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers, is a "crime against humanity, a smash and grab raid that will tear apart our communities".
Patrick Roach, deputy general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "We must not fall into traps that have been set for us. We need to reclaim progressive values within our schools and classrooms."
Dr Roach's extreme comments have been criticised by Conservative MP Dominic Raab, a former human rights lawyer.
He said: "To describe legislation aimed at improving teaching standards in our schools as a crime against humanity is deeply offensive.
"It is insulting to trivialise the victims of such horrific abuse, and only shows how out of touch certain molly-coddled union bosses have become."
As well as addressing the closure of failing schools, the legislation also ensures that all new schools that open will be academies or free schools, which are state-funded and independent of local authorities.
The criteria by which schools are inspected by Ofsted have been changed to cover four key areas: pupil achievement, teaching quality, quality of leadership and management of the school and pupil behaviour.
The Education Act gives new powers to teachers to search for and confiscate items from pupils which could disrupt the classroom such as MP3 players, iPods and phones, while previously they were only permitted to search for drugs, alcohol, weapons and stolen items.
Teachers are now allowed to give no-warning detentions, meaning that pupils may be given a same-day after-school detention and not have to be given a 24-hour notice.
The Coalition is reportedly unsure why the teachers' union is unhappy with legislation that seems to give teachers more power in the classroom.
A Coalition source said: "Language like this is very disappointing. The Education Act gives teachers greater powers over discipline in the classroom and protects them from malicious allegations from pupils.
"It is rather odd that a teaching union could be against measures that helps teachers raise standards on the frontline."
What do you think of the Education Act 2011? Will closing down failing schools and opening more academies be good for pupils? Is it right that teachers can search pupils for mobile phones? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Read more on the story (The Telegraph)
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