Teachers were left appalled by the victorious tone of the message from the left-wing National Education Union (NEU) to its 500,000 members at the decision which left nine million pupils locked out of schools for the entire half term.
Tory MPs also condemned the ‘appalling triumphalism’ of the militant NEU’s email and said if the union was representing shop workers, all the supermarkets would have closed months ago.
The NEU’s message to its members last night (TUE) said: ‘We want to start by congratulating you all. It is never easy to stand up and be counted. It takes nerve and courage.
‘But you did it. You stood up for your own safety, for your pupils, their families and your communities.’
One teacher has torn up his union card in disgust after receiving the email and accused the union of being ‘hell bent’ on denying children an education by working against the government to keep schools closed.
The father-of-two, secondary teacher in his 30s and a union member for 15 years, who asked not to be named, told MailOnline: ‘I couldn’t believe the tone of this email, it made me sick to my stomach and sounded as if they’d won a football match or something.
Fury erupted after Britain’s biggest teaching union sent a ‘gloating’ email telling members ‘You did it!’ after Boris Johnson closed all schools in Monday night’s lockdown announcement
A closed primary school during England’s third lockdown in Emmer Green, Berkshire
Signage reminding people to wear a mask and giving safety advice because of the coronavirus pandemic is seen on the closed gate of a primary school in east London
‘Whatever your views on this issue are, no-one should be congratulated over the fact that schools have closed. It’s an insult to the children I teach and I’m leaving the union right away, and I don’t think I’ll be alone – many colleagues feel the same way.’
He added: ‘They also seem to assume we all agree with closing the schools, which is far from the case. Testing was never given a chance and as a father of two children, I know myself how important school is.
‘Remote learning is a very poor second and for disadvantaged children, it’s nowhere near as good. To hear the schools were closing was a body blow for me as a teacher, and I’m sure most parents felt the same.
‘To hear the biggest teaching union in Europe crowing and gloating over this in such a tone-deaf way will generate nothing but contempt.’
Tory MP Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Committee agreed, saying: ‘This is pretty appalling. It’s not a time for celebration, but should be one for commiseration.
‘It’s time that the unions began working to keep people in school instead of getting them out.
‘They should be concerning themelves with the staff, pupils and parents, and thinking of children who will have their mental health affected as well as suffering loss of learning and safeguarding issues.’
Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons to deliver a statement to MPs setting out details of a third national lockdown for England
Perivale Primary School is closed after Boris Johnson announced a third national shutdown
Conservative backbencher Philip Davies said: ‘For a teaching union to strike such a triumphant note over the fact that children won’t be able to go to school is quite extraordinary.
‘If teaching unions aren’t going to be the biggest advocates in the country for children receiving their education, then who on earth is?
‘Thank goodness these unions don’t represent shop workers, or all the supermarkets would have been closed throughout the pandemic.’
The joint general secretary of the NEU, Mary Bousted, was caught with other union leaders on a Zoom call in May, discussing how to ‘threaten’ headteachers trying to get their staff back to work after the first lockdown.
Ms Bousted was even shown accusing children of being ‘mucky’, spreading germs and ‘wiping their snot on your trousers or on your dress’.
An NEU spokesperson said: ‘The National Education Union has made it very clear that no one, least of all our members would want to see schools or colleges reverting to online learning. This is not the easy option for school staff, parents, or students.
‘What had become very clear, though, was that Government was negligent in the extreme to not recognise sooner that schools, as the Prime Minister finally said, are a ‘vector’ for spreading the virus. A stand against this position had to be taken.
‘As far back as the 22nd December Government was advised by SAGE that schools and colleges should close to get the infection rates down.
‘This advice was ignored. That is why last week we had to do our job as a union by informing our members that they have a legal right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions which are a danger to their health and to the health of their school communities and more generally.
‘The NEU makes no apologies for advising members of their rights. 400,000 people joined our zoom call on 2 January to hear further details about our advice.
‘The NEU and its members are relieved that the Prime Minister eventually listened to the arguments being put to him and the scientific advice he has been receiving to close schools and colleges.’