The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, large in name but small in numbers, hit Inverness last week to declare large ambitions: John Kelly introduced himself as Scottish president of the fastest-growing teachers' trade union in the United Kingdom and "far and away" the fastest growing in Scotland.
The Educational Institute of Scotland may be forgiven for interpreting this in much the same way as the Tories' 1 per cent rise in the opinion polls: if you're down, the only way is up.
Jotter was able to unearth confirmation of an alleged membership of 3, 000 to 3,500, and the earth moved depending on who was being asked. These figures are certainly a leap from the 1,500 school members to which the "separated brethren" in the other unions disgracefully reduce the NAS.
Their size shall not silence them, however, and it seems the other unions are in for a period of earnest missionary work. President Kelly said the aim was to overtake the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association as the second largest union by the end of the century. "Diligent proselytising by ordinary members of our colleagues who are currently prepared to accept inferior service from other associations" will do the trick, apparently.
This will be an interesting strategy for at least two members of other unions. For, contrary to common knowledge, there is another union which can boast a Fee and a Ferri, household names in the NAS. Mrs Ken Fee and Mrs Tino Ferri, in fact, continue to accept "inferior service" from the SSTA unless, of course, they have fallen under the spell of "diligent proselytising" from their husbands since last week's conference.