A work in progress for teachers

6th October 2006 at 01:00
The Glasgow University study on teachers' working time (page 3) is a much more satisfactory piece of work than the Audit Scotland evaluation of the 2001 teachers' agreement. The latter took an inevitably narrow view, based on "value for money". This week's research report for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers pondered on value for teachers. Perhaps the forthcoming HMIE report will square the circle and pronounce more widely still on value for education.

The latest research is a substantial study, but its findings are a bit of a curate's egg in terms of assessing the benefits of the agreement; it is, of course, good in parts. This will come as little surprise except to those who believe in overnight success. It is always worth re-stating that the teachers' agreement remains an ambitious undertaking and is very much a work in progress.

Of course, the more concrete aspects of the agreement - increased salaries and reduced class contact along with more coherent approaches to CPD and teacher induction - will be enthusiastically welcomed. The intangible elements, around issues of professional collegiality and autonomy, will not make such an immediate appearance.

It is noteworthy that teachers - like many in other professions - work beyond their contractual hours to get the job done; on the evidence of this research, the charge of "clock-watching" appears false. Teachers are not alone among professionals in believing that their workload has increased or that they suffer from petty initiatives driven from the centre. The key issue, as Drew Morrice of the SNCT pointed out, is whether teachers believe they have the autonomy to manage their workload. That is most certainly a work in progress.

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