'Cynical misuse' of temporary teachers

10th May 1996 at 01:00
Teachers are providing a first-class service against the odds, Barbara Clark told congress in her presidential address. Mrs Clark, an English and guidance teacher at Bo'ness Academy, said schools were suffering from large class sizes, cuts in absence cover, decaying buildings, torn books and out-of-date computers. The casualisation of the profession and the reduction in staffing to minimum standards were of deep concern.

Mrs Clark warned: "All of this is concealed carefully under a cloak of jargon. Compulsory transfer becomes rationalisation of human resources. Creating a more flexible workforce equals exploiting newly qualified, vulnerable staff and removing job security. Premature retirement means voluntary redundancy. Vacancy management actually means leaving posts empty to save money."

It could now take years for new teachers to record the 390 days they needed during their probationary period. "It is about developing and consolidating teaching skills and you cannot do that without stable employment. A week here and three days there is simply not good enough," she said.

Alan Taylor, North Lanarkshire, said authorities were encouraging "a cynical misuse" of temporary teachers who experienced poor conditions and lacked job security. They were an important part of the teaching force and deserved better.

Wilma Ballany, East Dunbarton, said that up to 10 teachers in her school had been on temporary contracts for between three and four years. She added: "So-called Labour councils are using this as a ploy to say, hand on heart, they are not making teachers redundant. In my opinion, they have morally made teachers redundant."

Sandy Paterson, also of East Dunbarton, said the days when students walked out of college into a full-time contract had become "a folk memory".

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