Confused over position

30th May 2003 at 01:00
Helen O'Rawe is entitled to her opinion but she is not entitled to make unsubstantiated personal attacks or to advance distortions of the truth (TESS, last week).

What evidence does she have for her assertion that I have a "long-standing antipathy to change?" I would be grateful if she would adduce facts, not opinion, to support this offensive statement. For example, the fact that as a rather younger member of my present school, I helped to introduce a radical change to the format of the "principal teachers" meeting, introducing a degree of collegiality which had not existed hitherto?

Or perhaps the fact that as an elected member of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, I brought forward the concept of GTC classroom scholarships? Or then again, possibly, the fact that I recently led a West Lothian Council "masterclass" weekend conference aimed at improving pupil grades in Higher history.

leave it to your readers to decide whether these are the actions of a person who has a "long-standing antipathy to change".

For myself, I am happy to support any changes which I am convinced will empower teachers as professionals and improve classroom practice and its positive impact on children. But I am equally convinced that the proposals supported by Ms O'Rawe and others will ultimately have exactly the opposite effect.

Further, Ms O'Rawe really must get her facts right. The agreement which my union signed up to was A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century, agreed between all the parties. I defy Ms O'Rawe to find a single reference in that document to "curriculum managers" or any mention of the need for restructuring of principal teacher posts.

I must also contradict Ms O'Rawe's entirely false assertion that West Lothian SSTA has accepted the restructuring of promoted posts in that authority. Indeed, alone among the teaching unions, we have reserved our position with regard to these posts.

In fact, West Lothian SSTA has opposed this restructuring since day one, although we did co-operate in an initial pilot of six posts precisely because of a willingness to accept that change might eventually be necessary due to the roll out of the chartered teacher programme, among other factors.

Regrettably, the chartered teacher programme and the job-sizing exercise have both turned into rather different vehicles from those which teachers were promised in the agreement, although Ms O'Rawe neglects to mention this in her letter.

Given Ms O'Rawe's confusion over our position, and somewhat ironically, I have to admit that it might have been better had we been more, not less, resistant to change.

Peter Wright

District secretary

West Lothian Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association

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