Don't put up the flags too soon;Opinion

29th January 1999 at 00:00
Vexillologists (those odd people who study flags) must be having a field day in Scotland at present. Nationalists' flags are flapping from Berwick to Thurso, as the countdown to a Scottish parliament continues.

But just as the Scots are asserting their independence it seems that their teachers are being buffeted by the same "modernising" winds that are swirling round English staffrooms. Targeting Excellence, the Government's White Paper on the future of the teaching profession in Scotland, can perhaps be equated to a strong breeze rather than the expected gale.

The current protracted talks between Scottish employers and unions over teachers' pay and working conditions are likely to be more crucial to the reform programme than the feasibility of some of the new proposals. The teachers, however, may find themselves in a less strong position than in the past, since Scotland's lowly position in recent international tables of pupil performance raises questions about its much-praised education system.

So it could be there will be no pay hike in Scotland either unless teachers agree to work harder - or smarter.

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