To suggest that it has been impossible to get union members to "engage in a genuine debate on professional issues" is frankly ludicrous. I would suggest that it has, in fact, been impossible to get local authorities and headteachers to engage in genuine debate about professional issues.
Part of the reason for this has, I suspect, been a kind of culture shock, in as much as headteachers are now being asked to consult with and, even worse, seek agreement with, those to whom they are used to dictating. It is time for local authorities and headteachers to start playing fair, rather than trying to fight a rearguard action on working hours, or win a propaganda war against teachers.
One cannot withdraw money for basic resources, add to workload and bureaucracy, demand fewer exclusions, change teaching methods, improve pass rates in exams, include more extra-curricular activities and expect it all to fit within a 35-hour week that also includes a full complement of classes.
What they must now accept is that they are only entitled to expect 35 hours per worker per week, and plan school activities accordingly. This is what they agreed to in A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century after all.
Michael Mullen Carlyle Terrace, Rutherglen