Not in the real world?;Letter

9th July 1999 at 01:00
AS A committed member of "one of the smaller unions" I must take issue with your editorial, "Cold dose of reality" (TESS, June 18), in which you seem to argue that teachers must "come into the real world" and accept whatever changes the government wishes to make in our working conditions for the sake of "being paid a little more".

Is it characteristic of the "real world" to negotiate away working conditions for the sake of a pittance? Teachers have not had a salary rise in real terms for more than 10 years, yet we are assailed with changes, demands for accountability, and a paper blizzard which would choke a horse.

To top it all, many of us teach in unsafe, dilapidated buildings with leaking roofs and unsafe windows, or in isolated, dangerous "huts" without the means of communicating with anyone who could help in an emergency.

Verbal assaults on teachers by pupils and their families are common, as are malicious unfounded allegations. Actual physical assault is not uncommon and becoming more common by the day. Surely this is the "real world" faced by teachers daily?

Your lead report, "Fears on teacher supply", gives us some hope, if only to point out the cynical reality that what is scarce is valued. A teacher shortage is, quite frankly, in the interests of teachers and should give us the clout to defy such exhortations to submit to anything, which you appear to be advocating in your editorial.

Margaret Smith SSTA representative St Andrew's High School Kirkcaldy

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