Ill-tempered remarks are the final straw;Letter;News and opinion

3rd December 1999 at 00:00
I have read, with increasing frustration and anger, through the columns of your newspaper, the continued and mounting attack on subject departments in general, and principal teachers of subjects in particular.

The final straw was the comments from the director of education in Perth and Kinross, in which he blamed all the ills of education on subject departments. The reason we have Standard grade, the chaos in S1-2, Higher Still in its present form, and why secondaries don't deliver on 5-14, are all because of principal teachers. It is a little surprising that he does not blame this dedicated group, of which I am one, for poor attendance, staff absence and failure to keep schools warm.

It is this self-same group, allegedly resistant to change, which has delivered curriculum innovation in S1-2 (don't blame us if it does not work, we were not asked our opinion!), has made Standard grade into a meaningful course for S3-4 and is still currently trying to make something of the mess of potage which is Higher Still.

Given this rate of innovation, it is hardly encouraging to read such ill-tempered criticisms of subject principal teachers, and to have our work publicly denigrated by one who should be aware of all that has been achieved.

Perhaps we should recall the words of Mark Twain that "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated".

Jim McGonigle, Principal teacher of history, Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today