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Education unions write to new education minister Andrea Jenkyns expressing their ‘grave concern’ over swearing incident

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education, Andrea Jenkyns

Unions representing education staff, teachers and school leaders, have today written jointly to new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education, Andrea Jenkyns, to express their ‘grave concern’ over the incident in which she made an obscene gesture to the public outside Downing Street last week.

Please see the letter in full and its signatories below.

Dear Ms Jenkyns,

We are writing to express our grave concern at the footage of you making an obscene gesture to crowds outside Downing Street last week.

We have since read your public explanation.

As representatives of the teachers, leaders and support staff who run our nation’s schools and colleges, we are deeply aware of just how important professional conduct, ethical standards and appropriate behaviour are for our children and young people.

We note your comment that you were responding to a “baying mob”, plus your justification that “I should have shown more composure but am only human.”

Frankly, explanations such as this from politicians are no longer good enough. As role-models, politicians are increasingly falling short of the standards expected of them. Your words would certainly not be an acceptable excuse from a pupil or member of staff in a school or college.

We believe you should publicly acknowledge the impact that your loss of composure is likely to have on the ability of education teams to maintain common decency in schools.

Given legitimate current concerns about the conduct of those in public life, we are making this letter public.

Yours sincerely,

  • Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders
  • Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of NEU
  • Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of NEU
  • Jon Richards, assistant general secretary of UNISON
  • Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT

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