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Eaglesham insists McCrone reforms have delivered on standards

David Henderson reports from the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association's conference in Aviemore

Standards have improved for pupils over the past five years since the post-McCrone agreement was introduced, the SSTA's general secretary insisted.

David Eaglesham was backing an emergency motion condemning negative media coverage of the Audit Scotland report on the 2001 national agreement, published last week.

"This report is not a damning indictment of McCrone, as some would have you believe, but is in fact a very positive commentary on a huge amount of successful work," Mr Eaglesham said.

The impartial report finally quashed the idea that management restructuring in secondaries was part of the deal and highlighted how much of the agreement had been delivered on schedule.

Cathy Miller, an unpromoted teacher who works in Moray, said that there had been real value for money for councils and managements. But her workload had continued to increase.

"We are constantly working at our maximum time commitment and I can remember the time when exam leave allowed us to develop new courses and address departmental issues," Mrs Miller said. "Not any more. We are covering for the lack of supply or permanent staff."

Mrs Miller welcomed the extra provision for continuing professional development but this now took place after school. "We are spending more time with the pupils, not less," she said.

Non-contact time was taken over by working groups, mentoring new entrants and meetings with colleagues. At the same time, new subjects were being developed every year under Higher Still, there were changes to 5-14 and staff were anticipating the curriculum reforms.

"Accusations of clockwatching and counting up hours has come from senior management and not from us," Mrs Miller said. "We have to justify how we spend our 35 hours of CPD, filling in pointless bits of paper. It's thanks to the professionalism of teachers that we haven't allowed teaching to suffer."

Schools were kept running by teachers agreeing to supervise pupils during their breaks and by carrying out administrative tasks that were supposed to be done by support staff. "So value for money? I think it has been and don't let anyone tell you different," Mrs Miller declared.

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