End 'disastrous' cuts, ministers are warned

19th September 1997 at 01:00
Secondary heads train their guns on millennium review as they call on Labour for new deal on funding.

Drawing up budgets to implement cuts has demoralised teachers, Alistair Johnston warned in his presidential address to the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. "How can one expect high performance from a profession when it is treated so badly? I do hope that the new Government really has a commitment to education and will put a stop to the decline in funding," Mr Johnston said.

Cuts had had a "disastrous" effect on staffing levels, training, supplies and buildings.

Mr Johnston disputed the argument that the only way to improve quality and performance was to target teachers and headteachers by appraising them and removing the incompetent. If the Government did not raise the salaries of heads and deputes, schools would fail to attract the best possible candidates.

"If you get poor quality candidates into posts because of the pressure to get a post filled, these people can be with us for 10 or 20 years and no amount of staff development may be able to remedy the situation," he said.

Ministers should focus on parent responsibilities as well as parent rights. "Parents should be expected to support schools on matters of attendance, discipline and homework. This needs national emphasis to try to reverse the decline which has taken place during our time in the profession," he said.

The HAS is also pressing to extend devolved school management to 90 per cent of a school's budget, a recommendation from the Conservative education manifesto, saying that while delegated powers have led to more work they have increased job satisfaction.

Turning to Higher Still, Mr Johnston feared that the Advanced Higher could emerge as "CSYS under another name" and urged planners to develop a course that motivated senior pupils to study through to the end of sixth year. "This will only happen if there is some reward at the end, either in terms of entrance to higher education or credits in the courses embarked upon."

Additional funds for teaching materials and equipment would be needed to transfer schools to the new syllabus.

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