Pride and prejudice

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
The Educational Institute of Scotland takes pride in being a powerful trade union able to put a spanner in the works. But in the wake of the McCrone agreement it is more anxious to show pride in the professionalism of its members. According to a new paper (page five), they are alive to the need to keep up with the times, to adapt to changes in learning and teaching and to be part of the collegiate management of their schools. In short, they are eager for continuing professional development.

That is just as well since, post-McCrone, CPD is about to become central to their lives. The EIS understandably seeks to lay down ground rules before the Executive has fleshed out what CPD is to mean in practice. But just as the institute has from time to time flexed its industrial muscles while striving to retain public support, so itis keen to show that questioning the way CPD operates is not to be equated with Luddism. Its paper couples "collegiality among teachers" with "an enhanced role for the EIS in schools". Professionalism is to mean proceeding by agreement.

Work with classes should not be observed except by consent. Senior staff should not sit at the back ticking boxes with the threat of, later, boxing ears. Even on the positive side, local negotiations about developing CPD are bound to be tricky. That is because instead of enhancing professionalism, over-precise regulations could reduce teacher autonomy - a key concern generally about the McCrone settlement. In-service qualifications are about to become prerequisites for advancement. Overseeing that change is also what the EIS implies in proclaiming "an enhanced role in schools".

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