EIS cracks on Higher Still

30th October 1998 at 00:00
GEORGE MacBRIDE'S article (TESS, October 16) reflects the contradiction in the Educational Institute of Scotland position regarding Higher Still which is making many members consider their position within the union. Much of what he has to say could have come from a Government minister or any other spokesperson for the increasingly fraught and discredited Higher Still.

The reiteration, without explanation, of the word "principle" in relation to Higher Still is no longer provoking the Pavlovian lapdog response intended. Teachers are increasingly aware that Higher Still is a political, not an educational, project.

As for internal assessment, Mr MacBride echoes the remarkable contradiction contained in the EIS statement which accompanies the current ballot on boycotting Higher Still. It says that the EIS supports internal assessment (when were members asked?), then admits that it opens teachers to unwholesome pressures and is itself open to misuse and abuse.

Well, well, well, just what we have been saying all along. Perhaps some of the membership money that is poured into banal, glossy corporate-style magazines could be invested in providing EIS spokespersons with one of Fergus McCann's "reality checks". A logic check would be useful as well.

Ron Tuck, chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, in the same issue, and Helen Liddell, in her letter to headteachers, admit, implicitly, the above serious problems inherent in any system of internal assessment.

The question teachers are asking loudly and clearly all across Scotland is, why are we being asked to implement a programme which everyone admits is open to misuse and abuse and which will put unacceptable pressures upon teachers? Why not have externally examined courses at all levels?

Tony McManus

Buckstone Crescent, Edinburgh

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