Out of hours, out of pocket

24th March 2000 at 00:00
I BELIEVE that public discussion of the McCrone inquiry into teachers' pay and conditions may have overlooked an important aspect of teachers' work, namely their contribution to the life of the school community.

We expect our schools to have an ethos of care and concern for all their members combined with a zest and enthusiasm for learning, but we pay little attention to the role of teachers in developing such an ethos and even less to ensuring that they have time to do so.

Care, concern, zest and enthusiasm are essential characteristics of work in the classroom, but should not be confined to the classroom. We need all teachers to:

Have pastoral responsibility for some pupils.

Have supervisory responsibility for the playground, corridors and dining hall.

Be involved in extracurricular activities.

Be involved in school events, whether these are concerts, exhibitions or social occasions. These are especially important in fostering teacherpupilparent relations and developing school ientity.

Primary schools are closer than secondary schools in obtaining the support of teachers for these activities because of the class teacher structure, their smaller size and fuller school calendar.

Even so, the settlement after the 1980s dispute has meant a complete withdrawal of primary class teachers from supervisory duties, only rare cases of leading out of school clubs and even rarer attendance at school functions. Our schools are never going to be as good as they could be and the teaching profession will never regain the esteem it deserves among the public until all teachers perform the four roles above and their pay and conditions reflect their duty to do so.

That is why in a personal submission to the McCrone inquiry, I urged, among other things, reform of the guidance structure in secondary schools, payment for all types of extracurricular activity and a reduction of teaching hours to compensate for other out-of-class activities.

David Hill

Relugas Road, Edinburgh

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