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Novice staff 'have no one to turn to'

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

HEADTEACHERS' support for probationers has "fallen into disrepair" in some schools, Richard Goring, the association's education convener, said. Some had received no backing at all during their two-year probationary period.

Peter Wright, West Lothian, said that novice staff were often exploited by employers and colleagues and were reluctant to put their heads above the parapet.

Mr Goring also complained that it was "penny-pinching and downright short-sighted" for the Executive to slash its core funding for the Scottish Council for Research in Education.

More staffing in schools is the way to raise standards, not the Executives school improvements Bill, Graham Souter, an Aberdeenshire maths teacher said. His authority had suffered seven years' cuts and staff were under greater strain than ever. New technology was not the answer. He had seen integrated learning systems first hand and "most pupils' interest wanes once the novelty wears off".

Bill Fitzpatrick, the union's president, said an HMI inspection of his school in Kilmarnock failed to mention the deplorable state of the buildings. "The block in which I work had fungus on the walls, saturated plaster, puddles on the floor and missing ceiling and floor tiles. Either they found such conditions acceptable or their agenda was to find fault only with staff and not with other agencies."

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