Criticisms silenced

27th September 2013 at 01:00

Walter Humes ("Diktats to teachers reach 'absurd levels'", 20 September) said that the controlling tendencies of some local authorities were causing "able and committed staff (to) become alienated and suffer a loss of morale". A spokesman from local authorities body Cosla then claimed: "I do not recognise the picture being painted by Professor Humes."

Oh, how many in our staffroom laughed when we read that little gem. It was only last week that our local authority sent yet another reminder that we are not to discuss anything to do with education, our schools and possible changes to the school estate or we will face disciplinary action. Phrases such as "another missive from the Kremlin" and "I thought the Gestapo had been disbanded" were used by teachers. We cannot talk to parents and everything we send out, including letters about innocuous topics such as school football or homework, has to go via the senior leadership team.

We can't write to our political representatives about worrying recruitment practices, the wasting of public money or resources meant for education being sidetracked by corporate users in the school's beautifully appointed new headquarters. Our code of conduct says we can criticise the council in public but not on education matters or things we have learned in work. In fact, we have also been told we shouldn't write to the local press full stop or we will be given a warning, then suspended. This is democracy of the North Korean kind, no?

What planet are our masters on? Times have changed - we can criticise on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. All this nonsense is meant to stop Cosla being found out as not allowing transparency. Democracy? Cosla wouldn't know what it was if it was wrapped around a piece of cod and slapping them in the face. Professor Humes is right: Cosla is, and has been for years, wholly wrong but refuses to accept it, as do our local authorities.

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