Minister on the move says don't duck change

3rd November 2000 at 00:00
IN his final speech as Education Minister, Sam Galbraith made a remarkable plea for an end to "resistance and defensiveness" among teachers.

Addressing the annual TES ScotlandEdinburgh City Council conference last Friday, Mr Galbraith delivered what he dubbed as "Donald's speech," since it was crafted for Donald Dewar, the late First Minister, who had been due to open the conference.

The speech made pointed comments about the teaching profession, but Mr Galbraith went out of his way to express understanding of why teachers allegedly resisted change. "So much of this change has been ideologically driven, often against the grain of the system," he said.

"Too much has been painful, unproductive and has stimulated only resistance and resentment. But I very much regret that the experience of that kind of change has bred an understandable resistance and defensiveness.

"For I canno offer the hope of a world without change. The truth is that change is an inevitable and necessary part of development."

Mr Galbraith went on to imply that it was not teachers, but their leaders, who had to carry the can for the failure to embrace change. "They have been poorly served in past years. One of the major tasks we now face, through the work to implement the recommendations of the McCrone committee, is to undo so much that was wrong in past arrangements.

"To my mind it is absurd that we should for so long have required teachers' conditions of service to stipulate that they should use so many hours in a week for this activity, so many for that. It is tragic that teachers should now be so accustomed to this arrangement that they regard it as normal."

Teachers should be given "professional conditions of service" which they deserved and needed, Mr Galbraith said.

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