Cheesed off with change

19th August 2011 at 01:00

This week's survey by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council on Curriculum for Excellence suggests that teachers are negative in the face of more curriculum change.

In the past 25 years, we have developed and implemented Standard grades, 5-14, Revised Highers, Higher Still, inclusion and Assessment is for Learning, as well as CfE.

CfE has the potential to be radical but teachers are cynical because in our experience the resources will not be made available to do it properly and we will be left with compromises. We have been given little time to develop what should amount to new ways of working rather than just new courses, and no one can tell us yet what the exams will look like.

During a week at school, we can teach over 200 teenagers. It is possible to have to deal with the individual learning needs of 120 in a day in groups of 20 or more. Classes can be made up of as many as three year groups and four levels, and can include young people with behavioural and learning difficulties.

In addition to our subjects, we are teaching pupils literacy, numeracy and health and well-being (which we always did, though we didn't have to assess them). We are in loco parentis for their welfare, and most of us take this role seriously. Teaching is not the only role we have, and it is one of the reasons why it is a stressful job demanding a wide range of skills.

We are teaching in many instances in dilapidated buildings with minimal and outdated resources. We are facing wage freezes, staffing cuts, erosion of pensions and attacks on the most vulnerable. There is discussion in local authorities about working longer hours, or even employing people who are not qualified, and on the horizon is the possibility of industrial action.

Is it any wonder we are not all as positive as we might be at the prospect of more change?

Gwen Adair, Dumfries.

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