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Shirts score in relegation battle

David Henderson report's from the NAS's annual conference

THE shirts of the girls' football team at Clyde Valley High in Wishaw proudly carry the NASUWT legend. It is one way that Scotland's smallest teaching union puts something extra into education while spreading the message.

Victor Topping, the union's new Scottish president, is a biology teacher at the North Lanarkshire secondary, and he has negotiated his first national conference - small enough to be held at union headquarters.

Nationally, it complains about being squeezed by the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, is fighting for recognition in several local authorities and is now forced to share a position on the new national negotiating committee with the Professional Association of Teachers.

This is down to straight numbers. As ever, union memberships are shrouded in secrecy but the figure i about 1,500. Mr Topping would probably like to think small is beautiful.

The president has been involved for five years on the union's Scottish executive and represented it on a post-McCrone working group. Putting the details of the deal in place at school level will dominate his time and he fears battles over chartered teacher status and possibly the employment of classroom assistants.

He strongly supports the deal, unlike some of his members. However, he is a hard-liner on control of workload.

"McCrone is the way forward and we have the right to negotiate working hours which we have never had before. And 35 hours means 35 hours. There may be a slight oscillation but nothing like 40 hours one week and 30 the next," Mr Topping says.

As a senior teacher responsible for probationers, the deal brings mixed news. The one-year contract is good, the fact that it's not longer, less so, he says.

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