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EIS presses on placements

The outgoing president of the Educational Institute of Scotland has warned local authorities that they must provide better support for the 10,000 student teacher placements that will soon be required every year.

Sheena Wardhaugh told the annual meeting of the institute in Perth yesterday (Thursday) that authorities had to make effective support of student teachers a priority. The union bases its calculation of the numbers required on the Scottish Executive's commitment to increase the number of teachers and the age profile of the profession itself.

An EIS policy paper recommended that every authority should have a named senior officer whose remit would include student placements in partnership with schools and universities.

Ms Wardhaugh urged local negotiating committees to reach agreement on a "protocol" for placements that would allow teachers to provide effective support teachers "without unreasonable demands being made on either class teachers or promoted staff".

Funding, time for discussion with students and streamlining of paperwork must be addressed.

While Ms Wardhaugh noted progress towards implementing the teachers'

agreement, she asked: "When we review the success of the agreement, 'not earlier than August 2006', will we feel that we are working in an ethos of complete trust? The answers will vary - virtually 32 times over - but I personally don't feel collegiality will have been established all over Scotland.

"It will also be very interesting to see the results of the Audit Scotland inquiry into the way funding from the Scottish Executive has been spent. We are already fairly sure that money has been diverted away from the purpose for which it was intended and in some cases right away from education."

Ms Wardhaugh said that, along with proposed changes to the teachers'

pension scheme, the subject foremost in staffrooms and local meetings was management restructuring and the move to faculty principal teachers. One great weakness in CPD (continuing professional development) arrangements is the lack of opportunity continually to update subject specialist knowledge.

"Add that to the absence of principal teachers actually qualified in the subject departments they manage and how are we to raise attainment or contribute to curriculum development?"

Ms Wardhaugh - who started teaching in 1968 in a composite P1-P2 class of 45 pupils - told delegates that class size was the major issue in Scottish education.

"We welcome the coalition commitment of 25 in P1 and 20 in S1-S2 English and maths classes by 2007, but we must plan beyond that. Having achieved 53,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) teachers with falling rolls, we must plan for constant improvement in class sizes and I am very pleased that the ministerial working group on class size will begin its task before the end of this month."

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