PAT set to join exams boycott?

21st August 1998 at 01:00
The most moderate of the teacher unions believes that "attitudes are hardening" against the Higher Still programme, putting early pressure on Helen Liddell, the new Education Minister, to confirm Government funding for the implementation phase.

The Professional Association of Teachers, which has a policy of not taking industrial action, will discuss whether it should ballot its members on a boycott at an executive meeting on August 29.

"Until now we have been reasonably co-operative, although that may well change," Bob Christie, the PAT's Scottish secretary, said this week. "Unless training, materials and resources are forthcoming, Higher Still won't be. "

The TES Scotland revealed last month that ministers were prepared to put at least Pounds 10 million into supporting the introduction of Higher Still over the next three years, following the comprehensive spending review.

In an interview with The TESS this week Brian Wilson, the former Education Minister, confirmed that "substantial additional funding" had been committed. Mr Wilson also disclosed dissatisfaction with the official advice he had received about the reform, saying: "I should have been more sceptical about the reassurances which were brought to me."

Secondary schools now enter a critical phase with the other three unions reaching final balloting decisions. The key date is September 18 when the executive council of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the largest union, meets to carry out the instructions of its annual conference to hold a ballot on a possible boycott.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association has already been authorised by a consultative ballot to stage another vote if its conditions on resources, materials and workload are not met. The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is also committed to a ballot.

Wilson reflects, page 3, Higher Still watch, pages 4-5

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