Politics, philosophy and paranoia

18th May 2001 at 01:00
Sorry to clog up your columns with further commentary on Glasgow's "Project 2002" but given the possibility (probability?) of morepublic private partnerships after June 7 I offer a riposte to Bob Gray'sarticle (TESS, May 11).

First the ya-boo section. Fact - the Glasgow EIS did not ignore the invite to trade union meetings about PPP in 1999-2000. We were instructed not to attend by the directorate as these were exclusively for APTamp;C and manual staff facing changes in management and employee status. Fact - we did visit the "Data Room" despite its cloak and dagger existence (hands up how many Glasgow citizens have ever heard of it?).

Our chairperson and our health and safety officer were there. Perhaps in future they should leave a felt tip "menschie" behind, unless they're too busy gatecrashing meetings of course.

Our compendium of complaints about PPP in action is of course disparaged by the thoughtful, listening city council either as just another stick to beat the ideologically distasteful PPP or the work of girning ingrates. Be absolutely assured that no teacher or teachers' organisation, whatever their well-founded fears over the finances or philosophy of PPP, wishes anything other than the successful refurbishment and re-equipping of the remaining 29 city secondary schools.

Of course we want the very best and brightest of learning conditions for Glasgow pupils. Staffs don't analyse the merits of the Public Sector Lending Board against PPP when gettng on with their day to day work as teachers. But they do notice the events which, as part of that re-newal, make it considerably more difficult to deliver the teaching and learning environment to which teachers and pupils are entitled.

The following are, inter alia, some of these events - the library in Hillhead High with no shelves, the 30-classroom block in HolyroodSecondary with no toilets what-soever for 900 pupils and more than 50 staff, the failure to complete Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the St Roch's Secondary programme on time, the sequence of floods ("le deluge") in Cleveden Secondary's modern language classes, the commonroom in St Paul's High with no chairs.

Add in the art rooms with wrong-size shelves and classes still being subjected last week to drilling, sawing and hammering in the same corridor as lessons took place and what you have is not a reasonable environment to learn in or a healthy one to work in. And that's before the breaches of agreed arrangements for asbestos removal in Holyrood and elsewhere in recent weeks - and that's not fiction, distortion or paranoia (well if it's paranoia it's justifiable paranoia).

Perhaps instead of penning panegyrics to the progress of Project 2000 the city council could sit down and engage in genuine consultation with teachers in the schools concerned? That way further frustration like that above could be avoided.

Willie Hart Secretary, Glasgow Local Association, Educational Institute of Scotland

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