Ministers need help with C-words;Letter;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
THIS Government has offered a princely sum, worth the salaries of three newly-appointed teachers, to hire a communications expert (TES, November 12).

There are at least three people who would be happy to convince teachers of the merits of the plans - the leaders of the big three teacher unions. And, what's more, they HAVE told teachers of these merits. Extra support in classrooms, more and better training opportunities, and so on, are brilliant ideas, and long overdue.

Where the Government is making a mistake is by thinking that communication is one way. They should listen. An overwhelming majority of teachers are against pay which is related to pupil performance. It is akin to paying MPs for the number of Bills they get through the Lords without a mauling.

The forces of conservatism, as the soundbite refers to us, are not happy at the implication that we simply need to be told the same message, in a sweeter tongue. It is an insult to our intelligence and integrity. These people need to come to terms with c-words that trouble them. "Communication" is the latest they have re-interpreted.

They find it hard to accept the proper definition of "consultation" too, having asked for such on the Green Paper, then telling us that performance pay is not for discussion.

Andy Garner, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Executive committee member, 31 Hatfield Road, Ipswich, Suffolk

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