Club fees are too high

15th June 2001 at 01:00
We knew it would not take long for certain parties to seek to manipulate the post-McCrone agreement to serve their own ends. However, most of us thought we could wait until at least August before having to insist upon the maintenance of professional standards.

Your article on "Regulation dogfight for sport" (TESS, June 8) illustrates early attempts to undermine subject integrity and increase teacher workload. Scotland's secondary teachers came to the brink of industrial action to win, among other things, the time to offer a professional service to our young people through preparation, teaching, assessment and reporting in our own subjects.

The extra seven and a half hours contracted from August must be devoted to fulfilling the requirements of a teaching post.

Any teacher accepting a "club" in their own subject within the 35-hour week is in fact taking on an additional non-certificated class for which they will be accountable to their employing authority.

If the "club" offers an activity from which another teacher, usually a PE teacher, earns a living, the "club" leader is not only taking away somebody's livelihood, but is also underining subject integrity.

Most of us became secondary teachers in order to pass on to the next generation the benefit of a specific branch of knowledge which we felt would enrich humanity. Had we simply wished to teach regardless of subject specialism, we would surely have trained for the primary sector.

If our curriculum is so overloaded that there is insufficient time for sport, then allocation of subject time requires to be reviewed at a national level. The answer does not lie in disguising PE classes as extracurricular activities.

For so long as extracurricular clubs remain outside the 35-hour week, there will always be a cohort of admirable teachers willing to give up their time and energy for the rounded education of young people.

As soon as extracurricular "clubs"are placed within the 35-hour week, even if firmly written in any school development plan, teachers who would formerly have volunteered their services will grudgingly adhere to contract and resent the fact that time is being taken away from the teaching duties for which they entered the profession.

John Forbes Corstorphine High Street Edinburgh


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