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Fees an attack on profession;Conference;Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association

The Scottish TUC in Perth also heard from the teachers' unions

Teacher recruitment will be hit by tuition fees and the end of grants, Marie Allan of the SSTA warned the Scottish TUC in Perth last week. All professions which rely on postgraduate qualifications could suffer.

Speaking in the main education debate on post-16 funding, Ms Allan said:

"The last thing the teaching profession needs is any kind of disincentive at the very moment people try to enter the profession. We're experiencing shortages already and cannot find supply staff. But that's no surprise given the way they're treated."

Ms Allan attacked Labour ministers for "kicking the ladder away" from people with similar backgrounds to theirs who wanted to improve themselves. Reforms to student funding would lead to rising debt and place obstacles in the way of many people from low income families.

Ms Allan, an English teacher at Holy Rood Secondary, Edinburgh, also blamed unattractive salaries for turning graduates away from teaching. The uncertain employment future for students coming out of teacher training and the "endemic teacher bashing" were added factors.

In a separate motion, Ian McCalman, Educational Institute of Scotland president, defended the record of comprehensive education.

"Some of the statistics can only be described as astonishing. Forty-seven per cent of young people under the age of 21 are now in higher education, as compared to 19 per cent only ten years ago. The number of students on further education courses rose by 27 per cent over the last year alone," Mr McCalman told delegates.

* Music graduates do better in employment than most science graduates, Bill Sweeney of the musicians' union told the STUC.

"They tend to be multi-skilled, they have higher concentration levels, they are intellectually inquisitive and responsive to stimuli and they have developed disciplined work habits. There are very few academic or practical disciplines which demand this range of qualities," he said.

It was vital for the country and the music industry to preserve music tuition in schools. Mr Sweeney praised Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, for being "sincere and serious" in his commitment to free instrumental tuition. The minister wants all authorities to abandon charges.

Music tuition in secondaries is the backbone of many professional artists, Mr Sweeney said.

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