Editor's comment

29th January 2010 at 00:00

Education Secretary Michael Russell says he is in listening mode over teachers' concerns about Curriculum for Excellence. The risk of his plan to survey teachers on the reform is self-evident: they may tell him in no uncertain terms that he needs to plough in considerably more money and staff. He has promised more money, but has yet to divulge a figure while he awaits final calculations from the local authorities. However, given his prediction that the economic conditions make it unlikely that teacher numbers will return to their 2007 level of 53,000 (and could drop even further if circumstances dictate), we can kiss goodbye to a significant influx of teachers to support CfE.

There are also risks for the unions in this survey. Their leaders have been robust in their criticisms of CfE - particularly the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association. If the response rate from union members is small, or contradicts the leadership line, they will be gravely weakened. On the other hand, if they do not take part they run the risk of appearing frightened of the grassroots voice.

There is another interpretation that can be placed on the Education Secretary's latest show of inclusivity - that he hopes to cut out the middlemen and speak directly to those at the "chalkface". During last month's conference at Heriot-Watt University of the "great and the good" in education, Mr Russell referred to his headteacher father: "He felt that the real knowledge of what schools needed to do lies not with civil servants, not with educational administrators, not with councillors or ministers, and not with trade unions. It lies in the classroom: however, nobody listened to the classroom." Could all that be about to change?

Neil Munro editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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