OVER recent years members of the Educational Institute of Scotland have grown accustomed to biased reporting from some areas of the media, but the TES Scotland has maintained its high standing among most teachers. Therefore it is disappointing to find a less than comprehensive account of the Higher Still debate at the recent EIS annual meeting (June 12).
As the mover of the successful resolution, I should like to point out that there was no official executive council position on the motion or the Glasgow amendment. At our executive council meeting it had been decided that council members could vote as they saw fit. There was agreement that the debate was about tactics, not principle. Both sides in the debate recognised that a ballot was on the cards - the real question was "when" rather than "if".
No one at the executive council proposed that the threat of a boycott should be abandoned. Therefore your report is inaccurate when it says that delegates threw out a motion from the "executive".
The editorial is correct when it says that those who supported a ballot in September were not all from the usual "far left". A number of us were from executive council. We had three members of the EIS education committee speaking - two of them local association secretaries and the other a local association assistant secretary. One of them is a member of the institute's Higher Still working group and is also on the Higher Still Development Unit's secondary sector group.
Many reasons for an early boycott of Higher Still were put forward. Unfortunately, the more "sexy" points in debate tended to be reported. Therefore I should like to recap on a few salient points from a debate that lasted nearly two hours.
Firstly, local authorities have neither the funding nor the structures to implement such a major programme in a satisfactory way.
Secondly, those who oppose the introduction of Higher Still can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Almost everyone who spoke in favour of an early boycott pointed out that they were in favour of a properly funded, properly resourced and properly structured Higher Still programme. Teachers wish quality provision for their students. "Opportunity for all, not chaos for all," was how one supporter put it.
Thirdly, the EIS rejected calls for a boycott at its AGMs in 1995 and 1997. In fact, some of those who spoke for a boycott this time had previously spoken against one. The institute had been involved in discussions since 1995, but given its imminent introduction delegates felt a decision had to be made now.
Finally, it is time that parents should be made aware of these problems.
Bill Ramsay EIS executive council member, South Lanarkshire Local Association