How did they come up with this pig in a poke?;Conference;Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association

14th May 1999 at 01:00
AS RECTOR of Bell Baxter High, Cupar, Douglas Campbell is not the most militant of the union's 6,500-strong membership but something is seriously amiss when even he remains highly sceptical of the proposed reforms on pay, conditions and management structures.

"We cannot see how we can easily translate these proposals into an effective working scheme. You have to remember these are the people who gave us senior teachers and who did not listen when we said they did not fit the existing structure," Mr Campbell, who leads the association's headteachers' panel, said.

"There are issues which education authority and school management wish to have addressed and it is right we should negotiate on that. But they have singularly failed to convince us that their vision is soundly based."

Mr Campbell added: "It's a recipe for chaos and it's amazing to me how anyone with any management experience can offer such a pig in a poke and expect professionals to accept it."

Principal teachers had a background of professional experience and knowledge which was invaluable to raising standards and curriculum management, Mr Campbell told The TES Scotland. Removing guidance teachers, who were also at the heart of Higher Still, made no sense and abolishing absence cover was "a step back into the dark ages".

He further questions whether additional time should go to study support, extracurricular activities and other political priorities. Such schemes could be managed by people outwith the system. The real pressure on schools came from targets and raising standards of achievement, Mr Campbell said. Heads needed more time for directly related activities.

Bill Crossan, head of Campbeltown Grammar, shares similar views and remains unsure about curriculum accountability with the planned disappearance of promoted post structures. "Payment for responsibility is a major aspect of the present structure," Mr Crossan said. "There is much of value in the present system and the arguments on principal teachers seem to have gone by default."

Current plans would merely add to the pressures on teachers. There was little to encourage recruitment and ease the impending staffing crisis. "These proposals are very, very worrying for many headteachers," he stated.

John Livingstone, head of Cathkin High, Cambuslang, accepts the proposals would mean more time under heads' direction but principal teachers would be "sold out".

"The scheme is not an improvement on what we have got and in terms of secondary teachers, the deal is not a good one. The money is not significant enough," Mr Livingstone said.

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