Please stop digging

17th November 2000 at 00:00
ROSS MARTIN does no good to the debate about the future of teachers' pay and conditions (TESS, October 27) with his facile analysis of the current problems.

There is nothing new in much of what he says, and at first sight his scatter gun approach to everything needing change leaves you breathless. His call for public servants to change hides the fact that he really blames teachers for the whole of the failure to modernise.

I find it hard to believe that someone who in great part was responsible for leading the employers' side in the discredited millennium negotiations can fail to appreciate the enormous strides teachers continue to make in changing the entire nature of their work.

Teachers are portrayed as a sort of old Labour bailiwick capriciously standing out against the modernising and moderating forces of COSLA and their generous hearted employers. Instead of which teachers have been flexible about continual changes to their work and conditions to an extent that would defeat an elastic band.

McCrone does not paint a picture of a profession at ease with itself or content with the way employers manage.

Luminaries who lecture teachers about where are the voices for change in education shuld really spend some time in schools to find out. Young teachers are too busy delivering the curriculum and too concerned about ensuring that they do not disturb the peace in their school, where they may now expect to spend a great many years, to be radical or adventurous. Twilight classes and piles of marking before bedtime leave little time to be involved in professional issues and debates about being an "extended professional".

There are real questions to be addressed here for schools. Why are absence rates for teachers so high? Where are all the young supply teachers when official figures show that there are more teachers being produced than there are job vacancies?

Has modernising schools to free them to recruit their own staff, like miniature ICIs, been a contributing factor to the assumed educational inertia?

Should tired and dispirited teachers really be the bedrock of the educational provision in the future?

Can education really stand the effect of employers who will not recognise that they have put the system in a hole and have decided to find a way out by digging?

Roy Robertson

Scottish treasurer

National Association of SchoolmastersUnion of Women Teachers

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