Let's look again at this culture of scrutiny

7th May 2010 at 01:00

As a newly-retired secondary teacher, it is with a sense of sadness and frustration that I read letters such as the one published on April 23, in which Brian Boyd pontificates on changes necessary to implement Curriculum for Excellence. He clearly has his own agenda.

My view is that management structures in education offices and schools, where the obsession with exam results as the benchmark in judging what constitutes a successful school, are the real barriers to achieving a first-rate education service. This is based on our hierarchical management system, which is in conflict with allowing teachers to teach to their strengths.

Clearly, we need radical education reform - and that includes collegiality. The average secondary will have 60-70 teachers. Many will have a wealth of experience in teaching their subjects, but also a wealth of knowledge about pupils and how schools work. Thus, management has to work closely with the teaching staff, share information and try to involve them in decision-making - a progressive step in theory, but ignored in many schools.

Indeed, with ever more monitoring and evaluation, teachers are increasingly under the watchful eye of senior management teams who are accountable to their local education authority. This breeds cynicism and fear in staff who feel devalued as professionals, which can often lead to some of them feeling bullied and marginalised.

All of the above could be changed and needs to be changed if we are to achieve what Brian Boyd wants: "No longer do (teachers) need to be told from the centre what to teach and when to teach it." Schools do need to be freed up, with a fresh look at the concept of power-sharing and teachers trusted to do what they do best in the classroom. They should be empowered by making them an integral part of the decision-making process in schools.

Resourcing change, such as CfE and the assessment that goes with it, is a key element in any major educational initiative, but it can only produce the success we are all looking for if the present management structures are altered, enabling schools to work as a cohesive unit towards agreed ends.

John Rae, Old Bothwell Road, Bothwell.

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