Disclosure so who's certifiable now?

16th February 2007 at 00:00

The school is suddenly awash with money. Our enhanced financial position was announced by an all-staff email from Ms Gibbons that invites spending bids "in any and all areas, although I will give extra weighting to bids which satisfy the combined aims of A Curriculum For Excellence and our own Achievers in Excellence programme, as well as the Greenfield Excellerators strategy, designed to fast-track our best pupils". It was the first I'd heard of such a gruesomely named scheme, but I concealed my distaste as I discussed the good news with Kevin Muir.

"I can't understand why we've stuttered along hand-to-mouth," I queried our depute head, "having to bid for new stationery, books, new everything, and having every bid turned down because there's no money. But you've got to salute this new Education Minister. As soon as he starts, he's managed to find Pounds 60 million and put it where it's needed most - straight into the schools!" Kevin raised his eyebrows.

"So you think this was Hugh Henry's plan, do you?" "Well, he announced it, didn't he? And now we're getting it - it's Hugh's huge payout!" I chortled.

"So you don't think this was all planned months ago," Kevin cocked his head to one side, "and you don't think that the sudden release of money is anything to do with next May's Scottish parliamentary elections?

He had a point. Maybe we need elections every year


Mr Plant from the Scottish Qualifications Authority was back, conducting more interviews aimed at "discovering what pupils think of S grades as we examine new ways of formulating our external assessment programmes".

As my principal teacher pointed out, this was a thinly veiled reference to his asking loaded questions designed to back up his organisation's desire to be rid of Standard grades by proving that pupils don't like them - and he got plenty of supporting evidence from my class of sub-literates. This time, Simon Young was ready for him, and insisted that he interview his class, crammed with the school's best.

What's more, he primed Lewis Taylor and Gillian Johnstone so that, by the time he packed away his clipboard at the end of period 4, he had some very effusive comments in favour of S grades: their motivational factors and their currency in the employment field.

I doubted aloud whether such responses would be made public.

"Too right, Morris," agreed Simon. "I don't know much about this new woman at the SQA yet, but you can bet that whoever got that job, signed up at pre-interview stage to abolish S grades by hook or by crook. It's a sad day."

I agreed, and decided it was better not to remind him of the fearsome opposition he had displayed more than 20 years ago to the same examinations he now appears to cherish so much.


There has been an acrimonious dispute between the education authority and Kostuss, the building contractors repairing our school. Or, rather, I should say, that Kostuss hasn't been in the school because I saw the men being stopped at the office by Mrs McKenzie, who demanded to see their disclosure certificates.

"But we hivny goat any!" explained their burly foreman. "All we've got is a line from yur clerk o' works that says we've tae repair everythin' oan that list."

"Well I'm sorry," Mrs McKenzie said curtly, "but I've got strict instructions that anybody working in this school has to be disclosure-cleared by the council offices."

The foreman took off his hard hat, scratched his head. "Back in the van, boys, whiles ah try tae sort this oot... " Alas, his enquiries proved fruitless, as Ms Gibbon explained in a subsequent email, which confirmed that any visitors to the school "who are likely to have any contact with pupils must have a disclosure certificate, and this includes work people".

It seems crazy to me, particularly as our neighbouring authority has a different policy, and I gather that our esteemed head is equally frustrated by the rules. Especially as the leak in the ladies toilet was one of the items on the repair list.


I have decided to take up my chartered teaching course again, after Fraser's birth last April gave cause for temporary cessation, so I am about to start the next module on the way to my pound;6,000 increase.

Not that money is the main motivator: I have become intrigued by the different styles of thinking and learning employed in education today, and the distance-learning module I have selected will offer me the chance to engage that interest - at the same time as I am giving Fraser his evening bottle, thus removing the necessity to attend lectures.

Davie McManus, our senior biology teacher, has described thinking skills as "the latest bloody bandwagon", but as he has only recently found out how to switch on his whiteboard, I don't think his opinion need worry me.


Today, the disclosure issue became the apotheosis of unreality, when Mrs McGowan of music finished her afternoon with a senior class and went downstairs for the first rehearsal of a new regional choir, formed by a Youth Music Initiative - only to find her way blocked by Mrs McKenzie.

"Sorry, Mrs McGowan," she said, "but I've had the council on, saying you've not been cleared for disclosure with this group."

"But I've got disclosure already, and these pupils are from our school. Plus, I've just been teaching half of them upstairs," countered the hapless musician.

"I know that," replied Mrs McKenzie and had the grace to look embarrassed, "but apparently the music adviser has to get a different disclosure certificate because this activity's being funded by a different body. So you can't go ahead until you've been cleared again. By them." She scurried away with her head down.

Mrs McGowan looked at the expectant faces before her and called off the rehearsal. It seemed a sad day for education.

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