Glasgow wants ideas

9th December 2005 at 00:00
Some 6,000 Glasgow teachers are being invited to have their say on how to narrow the "unacceptable gap" in attainment between the city and the rest of Scotland.

The city wants "a professional dialogue" with teachers to bring about its aim of "quality in every classroom" and will use the next six months to gather views that will help shape the direction of its high-profile education commission, further details of which were released this week.

Teachers will be able to use in-service days and professional development time to consider ways to ease the fix of Glasgow being bottom of every league table.

Ronnie O'Connor, now titled executive director for education, training and young people, will oversee the 12-strong commission (see panel) whose membership includes headteachers, college principals, business leaders and researchers. There are no union representatives, but local negotiating committees will be involved.

City leaders are now talking about "social renewal" and want the attainment gap closed as quickly as possible. "It is clear that new and possibly radical action is required to address the issue," the city admits.

George Gardner, deputy director of education, said that the focus on teachers was the next stage in the revitalisation of the city, which had worked hard to turn around its image. In education, all secondaries had been rebuilt and now the focus was on the pre-12 strategy.

Mr Gardner believes there are key principles in curriculum reform in a post-McCrone landscape and a new professionalism is central to them. "We are now four years into the post-McCrone agreement and it's time to put in place other elements. It's about ensuring quality in every classroom and every teacher being expected to deliver the curriculum and derive professional satisfaction from what they do," he said.

"If we want a shift in gear, we need teachers on our side and we will be placing significant emphasis on the outcome of this exercise."

In a paper distributed to schools this week, Mr Gardner states: "The classroom of the individual teacher is the key ground. It is the class teacher who really holds the key to successful learning . . .

"It is part of the teacher's job to accept responsibility for the quality of their own performance and professional competence, just as it is school management's task to help them to feel empowered to deliver the kind of pupil experience so well amplified in A Curriculum for Excellence."

Glasgow is pressing for a more collegiate approach to development in line with the direction of the post-McCrone agreement. Promoted staff have no monopoly of wisdom, the city states, and classroom teachers know what works and what doesn't. Principal teachers must be seen as part of the whole-school management team, responsible for areas that go beyond subject expertise "or the ability to fight corners".

Willie Hart, spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland, welcomed any initiatives to improve attainment but said: "It is a glaring omission not to have any practising teacher on the commission when the consultation is stressing the centrality of the classroom. There are still a number of class teachers who take the view that they are consulted but not listened to."

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