Nothing 'pretendy' about parliament or my time to question Donaldson report

25th March 2011 at 00:00
Continuum of quality CPD for teachers topped my agenda in the political bear-pit

I arrived late to the TES Scotland debate, having skim-read the invitation rather sloppily. The kindly people on the door still let me in, though I had to sit right down at the front of the hall below the MSPs.

I had to physically look up to them which was fitting as, and you may be surprised to hear this, I have metaphorically looked up to a fair number of them for some time. The member for my own area, for example, does not have a moat or a duckhouse and is generally very well regarded as an able lady who gets things done.

As to the charge that the Holyrood parliament is filled with "cooncillors", well, what if it is? As long as they are clever, principled, articulate former cooncillors, that's OK with me. There's even the odd (hey, is there any other kind?) physics teacher in there.

I have nothing against lawyers who went to Eton and would judge each one individually, but I don't want the body that makes decisions about our education system to be disproportionately stuffed with these chaps. Neither should it be stuffed disproportionately by people like me.

To the famous comedian who described Holyrood as a "wee, pretendy parliament", I say this: You were funnier when you didn't swear so much.

Despite my poor timing, I was still allowed to ask a question. I wanted to know what the panel would do about the Donaldson report recommendations concerning a continuum of quality professional development for teachers. All the panellists thought that CPD was important. Twenty years ago, none of them would have known what it was and I'm not sure that I would have either.

I'm not convinced I got a clear answer about what any party would actually do. Perhaps I missed it, because I was distracted by them all being civil and, indeed, in some cases, friendly towards one another.

It is probably as naive to be surprised by this as it is to be taken aback when they subsequently lay into one another in Holyrood. I find the shouty, bear-pit side of politics far more off-putting than the occasional waterfowl kennel. It would be different if genuine passion was involved, but having seen politicians behave normally, it looks even more like faux anger and gratuitous disagreement for the purposes of point-scoring.

Maybe that's the only bit that gets reported. Politics as drama.

Teaching as drama . The first time I tried to sound angry at a class, my voice played its cruellest trick on me and went squeaky. It was more embarrassing than walking in late to an education debate.

Gregor Steele promises to read future TESS invitations with greater care.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today