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Inclusion pressures 'intolerable', says EIS

TEACHERS need to be convinced of the merits of including badly behaved pupils in classes and will only be won over by lower staff-pupil ratios.

That is one conclusion from authoritative research the Educational Institute of Scotland has commissioned from the Scottish Council for Research in Education.

The union says, in effect, that inclusion now has a bad name in staffrooms. Or, as it delicately puts it: "The notion of social inclusion for many teachers is bound up with the experience of coping with varying degrees of pupil disruption."

The union acknowledged none the less that the problems were created by just 5 per cent of pupils.

Ronnie Smith, the EIS general secretary, said that teachers felt "ill-prepared" to deal with the large numbers of pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties who would previously have been educated elsewhere. The situation was "intolerable".

The EIS believes the research vindicates the opposition of all the teacher unions to including badly behaved pupils in classes.

Mr Smith says: "Schools are in the unenviable position of seeking genuinely to implement Government approaches to social inclusion but without the resources, support and staffing to do so."

The SCRE was also asked to look at the nature of the curriculum, the implementation of the teachers' settlement and the use of information and communications technology.

MESSAGE FROM THE CLASSROOM

Curriculum

* Most primary teachers believe the curriculum is "too broad", "too bitty" and "overcrowded".

* There is concern from "a significant minority" about a shortage of specialist teachers in primaries.

* Criticism of the emphasis on national tests in both primary and secondary schools.

* Secondary teachers complained that pupils were being short-changed because of a "one size fits all" approach in the name of equality.

* Practical skills are seen as having too low a status.

Teachers' settlement

"There was a strong sense that many of the details of the McCrone agreement had yet to be agreed. This appeared to be having the unfortunate effect of undermining the very professionalism the agreement was designed to foster."

Even probationers, among the principal beneficiaries of the deal, felt uneasy that supply teachers would be displaced to accommodate them. Some saw it as a "poisoned chalice".

Use of ICT

All teachers interviewed said they had been offered training, although not all had been able to participate.

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