Teaching unions condemn education minister over obscene gesture | UK news

Education unions have written to the newly appointed education minister, Andrea Jenkyns, warning that her use of an obscene gesture and her excuses since would be unacceptable from a pupil or member of staff.

Jenkyns, Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, was widely criticised after she was pictured raising her middle finger at a crowd gathered at the entrance to Downing Street on the day of Boris Johnson’s announcement that he was to step down as prime minister.

In a subsequent statement, Jenkyns said she had received “huge amounts of abuse” and seven death threats in the past four years and was just standing up for herself. She added: “I should have shown more composure, but am only human.”

The joint letter from Unison, the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Education Union, published on Monday, expressed grave concern at her actions and its likely impact on standards in schools.

It said: “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.

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

Meanwhile, the Department for Education tweeted a welcome to Jenkyns, who has been appointed parliamentary undersecretary of state for education.

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