Breaking the mould

21st August 1998 at 01:00
It will take a few days or even weeks to focus on the bigger picture. The start of the session poses more than enough logistical problems for teachers not to want to hear of what is going on beyond the school gates. September is the season for the political debates to resume.

But it is already clear what will be the governing issues at national level. How soon and how effectively will the extra money for education translate into better resources (including more staff)? Will the inspectors' beloved targets be amended and become accepted or will the initiative prove an irritant between government and schools, with councils kicking their heels? In secondaries, how will the tug-of-war between 12-14 and Higher Still play? Can teachers keep a grip on both developments?

The millennium review will draw attention to careers and conditions. The first proposals to be revealed to The TES Scotland highlight the difficulties in matching aspiration to agreement. Education authorities and unions accept that staffing regulations up to 40 years old are outdated. But individuals can compute potential threats more readily than theoretical opportunities.

Primaries need stronger management structures. Agreement there would be possible if cash were diverted to the sector. There is more at risk to teachers' prospects in secondaries, absurd though the tiers of promotion appear to outsiders. Management and unions cannot agree on what should happen to principal teacher posts, not only because they are a career benchmark but because they signify the role of individual subjects in schools. Even if the unpromoted scale were shortened and its maximum raised, preservation of subject autonomy would be hard to shift.

The review is needed because no one is happy with how teaching is viewed by today's most promising graduates. But the clash of established interests is always likely to put at risk the attractiveness of the profession.

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