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  1. ITV Report

Education Secretary heckled at headteachers conference

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was heckled several times during a speech to the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference in Birmingham on Saturday.

She had been attempting to allay concerns over the government's the introduction of tougher tests for pupils and academy plans.

'Critical' primary school assesssments

We all agree it's critical that we get primary assessment right, with tests fit for purpose, because mastering the basics in primary school is vital to the future success of young people.

– Nicky Morgan

Tougher spelling, grammar and punctuation tests for seven and 11-years-olds at Key Stage 1 and 2 have been brought in to raise standards but some parents and teachers are angry, claiming they are setting children up to fail.

Tougher tests have been introduced for pupils.

A boycott of the SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) exams, which pupils in years Two, Six and Nine sit, has been planned for next week.

Ms Morgan also said she did not "accept the claim from some outside this hall, that the higher expectations embodied in the new national curriculum are somehow 'inappropriate"'.

"Virtually all children have the potential to become properly literate and numerate and I am unwilling, as I know you are, to settle for anything less."

Academy plans

Ms Morgan also defended the government's controversial academy plans.

The proposal to strip schools from local authority control has been heavily-criticised by parents, councils, staff and union members who are concerned about cost and quality.

If given the go-ahead in Parliament, 17,000 state-run schools in England will be forced to become autonomous academies run by trusts by 2022.

The announcement in a White Paper last month prompted a stream of protests across England, while two petitions against academisation have attracted around 300,000 signatures.

The government's academy plans for schools has been widely criticised. Credit: PA

Morgan labels headteacher 'sexist'

During a question and answer session after her speech, Ms Morgan labelled a teacher "sexist" after he questioned whether she was really in charge of her department.

As part of a broader question, Simon Kidwell, headteacher of Hartford Manor Primary School in Cheshire, asked: "Are you in charge of the department or is Nick Gibb?"

Ms Morgan was posed the question by headteacher Simon Kidwell.

The question was met with a round of applause from the headteachers, but Ms Morgan was not impressed.

She responded sharply: “I’m not going to dignify that sexist remark with a comment."

Ms Morgan appeared to be offended by the question posed.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said he believed the question stemmed from Mr Gibb's involvement in decision making in his capacity as Schools Minister but said he did not think Mr Gibb was running the department.

He also said he had "no idea" why Ms Morgan thought the question was sexist.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, also said she could not see how the question could be classed as sexist and it was "completely valid".