English lobby scorns unions

12th February 1999 at 00:00
THE TEACHER unions "have not been representing the interests of teachers of English", the newly formed Scottish Association of Teachers of Language and Literature has warned.

At an inaugural meeting in Glasgow on Saturday attended by more than 150 teachers from the central belt to Orkney, the unions ran into criticism not only over their alleged ineffectiveness on Higher Still but over educational developments in general.

The aim of the association is to achieve a substantial redrafting of the Higher Still course arrangements in line with "the educational values of the subject". The national Higher Still liaison group, which met this week, is resigned to a year's delay because almost all schools cite lack of resources, materials and preparedness.

The meeting demanded that the assessment of oral skills should be ditched and that the requirement to write in prose on a non-literary subject should be reinstated. The association is also pressing for the removal of internal assessment.

Tony McManus, assistant principal teacher of English at Queensferry High, said the "tremendous turnout" was a huge statement to the unions and the Government that English teachers remain thoroughly dissatisfied.

Marion Porter from Bannerman High in Glasgow declared: "No one, including the unions, has been prepared to stand up for the rights of teachers of English and the pupils they teach."

The group's first demands are for practical-sized classes in English and "a suitable increase in non-contact time". It plans to lobby every candidate in the Holyrood elections and will be encouraging teachers of other subjects to campaign in similar fashion.

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