Don't just blame Westminster, stand up for our pensions, says EIS leader

15th June 2012 at 01:00
Union will fight if Michael Russell fails to deliver a `fair settlement', he warns

Stand up for teachers' pensions or face the prospect of further strike action, the new general secretary of the EIS union warned the Scottish government last week.

Larry Flanagan told delegates at the union's annual general meeting in Dundee that the EIS knew the coalition government in Westminster was behind the "great cash robbery" and the attempt to make teachers "pay more, to work longer and to get less".

But Scotland's education secretary Michael Russell could not "hide behind the coat-tails of some Eton toffs and say `it wisnae me'", said Mr Flanagan.

"If they fail to deliver a fair settlement here in Scotland, we are prepared to fight them every bit as hard as we will fight the UK coalition government on this issue," he warned.

Mr Flanagan reminded delegates the EIS had originally supported Curriculum for Excellence because the old assessment-driven model reduced teachers to "technicians" rather than educators.

But while the EIS has worked in partnership with HMIE, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and the government, some of these partners were "failing in that single biggest area of change - professional trust and collegial practice".

"You only have to look back at the so-called deep audit to realise that lip service is being paid to the notion of the teachers' voice being central to the debate," he said.

The biggest culprits were educational directorates, he said: "Too many in leadership positions are covering up their own insecurities with needless and misdirected bureaucracy that simply compounds the workload problems that always accompany curricular change."

Micromanagement should be resisted at school and local level, and if there was no progress, local EIS associations would be in dispute with their local authorities, he warned.

The union would honour its side of the agreement with the government on a support package for the senior phase. "We expect the Scottish government to do the same," said Mr Flanagan.

He had accepted Mr Russell's assurances that "there is no room for wriggle on the detail on the agreement".

"That means we expect to see delivery to schools of fully fleshed-out course material for National 4 and 5, and nothing less will do. If Education Scotland don't have the capacity to deliver that, then Mike Russell (will have) to find the money to employ the additional teachers needed to overtake the promises he has made," he added.

Notes from dundee

Workload complaints

Increased workload associated with CfE was a common complaint. David Smith from Aberdeenshire claimed there was "a real cottage industry" thriving in relation to CfE data collection, sampling and form-filling. Des Morris from East Renfrewshire said that instead of CfE streamlining forward planning, it had "never been more complicated".

Scottish texts rejected

Delegates voted by an overwhelming majority to oppose the Scottish government's decision to include a compulsory question on Scottish texts in the new Higher English exam. Allan Crosbie, from Edinburgh, argued that the government's diktat was imposing a political direction on what was taught in schools.

Save their bread

Pupils should no longer have to pay for ingredients for cookery classes, delegates agreed. Fife home economics teacher Paddy Miller said that because of costs, pupils could only practise recipes for one person but in exam conditions had to cook for four, which meant they were being disadvantaged.

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