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Secondary leader lambasts GTCS

The president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association will today take aim at the newly reformed General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Margaret Smith will pour scorn on the GTCS's description of itself as the world's first fully independent teaching council, when she addresses her union's annual conference today.

"Yeah, right. Reducing the number of elected teacher representatives, guaranteeing places to headteachers whether or not they actually achieve the required number of votes, and establishing a committee structure which would see teachers deprived of their livelihoods by people who are democratically accountable to nobody, but who have volunteered to take on a public duty, is not my idea of independence," says Mrs Smith, a former member of the council.

Last year's teachers' agreement, which the SSTA rejected, represented "an appalling erosion of teachers' hard-won conditions and seriously undermined professionalism by pitting one group of teachers against others", she adds.

The biggest losers have been probationers, supply staff, those on conserved salaries, chartered teachers, pregnant women and new mothers. But no teacher has been unaffected, she says.

The McCormac review comes under fire, for signalling "an end to the 35- hour week" by demanding flexibility, leaving the chartered teacher scheme "dead in the water" and suggesting that aspects of teachers' jobs could go to "so-called experts" without teaching qualifications.

Mrs Smith paints a bleak picture of how cuts are affecting schools: "The inclusion agenda continues unchallenged but the support services to make it work are eroded constantly; the trained librarians who could have helped teachers cope with some of the issues associated with the so-called Curriculum for Excellence have been replaced by people who stamp books in and out; technical support and support in practical subjects have gone; even attendance officers have disappeared. But the mantra to `do more with less' continues to drone at us."

She expresses concerns, too, about pensions, indiscipline, workplace bullying, low morale and "career stagnation".

GTCS `professional update', page 8

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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