Keep searching for the rainbow

9th March 2001 at 00:00
I have read with interest the continuing debate about teachers versus the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and problems with the "new" Higher Still. In addition, we now hear about the Education Minister, Jack McConnell, having controversial plans to weed out incompetent teachers. This comes when staff have only just welcomed the package from Professor Gavin McCrone, which includes better pay.

Much copy has been produced on the themes of blame and responsibility and detailed inquiries continue. However, may one be just a little optimistic and plead the Pollyanna view, looking at the other side?

Surely the rainbow is still there, with prisms of enthusiasm waiting for an objective light to be shed upon them. This optimism is not fanciful, but based simply on the value of the staff involved.

A few years ago I was a field officer for Scotvec (as it was then named). As a principal verifier with a national remit I met and worked directly with teachers, leturers, college principals, head teachers, inspectors (and interested dinner ladies).

Then as now, I often said how much the education system owed directly to the good-natured work of staff. Out of countless hundreds of visits I think I met only two centres that were less than interested. Most staff took time out of their busy day to hear the results of a visit, which was either verification - an inspection of work - or a development one where one assisted staff in developing appropriate content for future assessment or course work.

Having read many reports and listened to the media in general, it is difficult to believe test such staff do not continue to offer a quality commitment to their work.

It is impossible to believe that all staff, whether in administration or teaching, do not still have the best interests of young people at heart but are unable to respond to the media.

Valerie Robertson

Craiglockhart Dell Road, Edinburgh

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