Goodbye devolution and hello revolution

4th July 2003 at 01:00
Am I alone? I have worked in the Scottish secondary system for nigh on 30 years and have always trumpeted the proud flagship that is (was) Scottish education. Colleagues from across the world have commended the strength of our subject departments, quality assurance systems, inspectorate and the professionalism and commitment of the majority of teachers.

Then we were "McCroned" in a seemingly thin, innocuous document that put money in teachers' pockets before the "strings" (or should it be "stings"?). Never in my career had this happened before. But now we see what is really beneath the surface of three years of accepting the money gleefully without a backward glance.

Annex B and what it really now means: yes, you will be a guidance teacher but we will call it pupil support.

Annex E:back-of-an-envelope stuff which means goodbye to assistant principal teachers and senior teachers and hello to conservation, a 35-hour week and as much time "off site" as possible.

And there's more - job-sizing, with the only winners being PricewaterhouseCoopers, certainly in the secondary sector anyway. Then the coup de grace - school management structures.

I have read and re-read A Teaching Profession, but struggle to find reference to the type of principal teacher post that West Lothian and others have been advertising in The TESS.

What is the rationale for such revolutionary change? To raise pupils'

attainment through "generic management" and modernise the profession after more than 30 years of subject specialism. That's the song I have been told to sing anyway, never an easy task when you don't have all the words and music.

Maybe I am being a touch cynical here, but is it not also paving the way for the local authorities to chip away at conditions of service, local pay agreements (with added job-sizing) and pay for the new promoted structures in the primary sector?

We, as headteachers, constantly have to remind ourselves of the prime function of our job - to deliver effective teaching and learning to the young people in our charge - when we are faced with the ever-increasing background noise from a plethora of folk intent on keeping a very small "d" in devolved management when it doesn't suit their bigger agenda.

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