Editor's comment

18th June 2010 at 01:00
Ronnie Smith's annual address to the Educational Institute of Scotland's conference was masterly

Ronnie Smith's annual address to the Educational Institute of Scotland's conference was masterly - perhaps the best of the 16 he has delivered as general secretary, arguably in the most difficult circumstances for education. There was enough red meat for the faithful to chew on - "we will not be fall-guys for others' fecklessness". At the same time, he was not afraid to confront his members with home truths - "the politics of the pavement has its place, but it also has its limitations".

This latter point touches on the real issue for the EIS, possibly one of the most challenging in its recent history. Smith himself alluded to it: how does the union respond to the threats facing education funding, including the very existence of some services? As he said, they will have to be "smart and thoughtful" about it. In the passing, it is worth reflecting on the fact that they will also have to do so in a period when retirements will rob the union of its most experienced leaders.

That there will be threats to jobs, services and teachers' conditions is not in doubt. There was perhaps a touch of paranoia in Smith's references to this being used as an excuse to undermine public confidence in teachers. But, as the saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. The inconvenient truth is that, however much we might rage against the dying of the light, all public services are going to suffer. The best we can hope for is that the Chancellor's budget next week will have a bit of vision by focusing on tax rises and stimulating business, not just tunnel vision by bearing down purely on public sector costs. In any event, teachers could yet be faced with the unpalatable dilemma of whether they value their services more than their salaries.

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

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now