Fudge, fiasco and disaster - but please let us join in

11th June 1999 at 01:00
THE Educational Institute of Scotland should amalgamate with the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association to stop secondary teachers getting a raw deal, a senior SSTA figure says.

Peter Wright, Lothian area secretary and a member of the SSTA's executive, is the most senior figure in the union to urge amalgamation for some time.

Mr Wright, speaking entirely in a personal capacity, decided to make his move on the eve of this weekend's annual EIS conference, which regularly revisits the issue. The institute's Renfrewshire association will again try to commit delegates to a merger.

Supporters will not, however, be basing their arguments on Mr Wright's premise. He claims the EIS, as the largest union, has led secondary teachers into a series of "disasters, missed opportunities and own goals".

The list includes introduction of a "flawed" Standard grade curriculum, the Higher Still "fiasco", a successive "fudge" of pay settlements, the "unnecessary and irrelevant" target-setting exercise, the "mess" of compulsory modern languages - for which teachers got the blame - and the Inspectorate's "curriculum change by diktat" in S1 and S2.

Mr Wright contrasts the secondary experience with that in the primary sector where the EIS represents most teachers. This unity helped primaries resist "the horrors of national testing on the English league tables model".

Official SSTA policy has been to support amalgamation but only if there is a separate secondary sector within a federal EIS structure. The model is the EIS's further education section - although it complains constantly about its lack of autonomy from the main body.

The EIS, with 50,000 members to the SSTA's 7,000, has never shown serious interest in any overtures. Mr Wright suggests some EIS figures oppose unity because it would threaten their power base. But he says that it would actually strengthen the EIS as well as the position of secondary teachers.

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