Probationer deal 'best in the world'

27th June 2003 at 01:00
A PASSIONATE call for teaching to be reinvigorated by the language of the educator not the accountant was issued in an end-of-session speech to the first crop of successful probationers in Aberdeenshire.

Speaking in Inverurie, Matthew MacIver, registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, acknowledged that the trainees who have emerged from the new one-year induction course would have job anxieties and confessed that criticisms of the reformed system had rankled.

No change had not been an option, Mr MacIver said. "Probationers were exposed to a system which was unprofessional, unaccountable and ultimately morale-sapping. Over half of our proba-tioners flitted homelessly from school to school, from department to department; many waited anxiously for the telephone to ring at 8.15 in the morning as they tried desperately to build up enough hours to gain full registration with the General Teaching Council.

"The Olympic gold medallist in primary was a teacher who had to go to 132 different primary schools before she obtained registration. The champion in secondary was a chemistry teacher who gained full registration after being employed in 66 different departments."

Mr MacIver reminded critics that there was a huge public investment of pound;24 million a year to give probationers a better start, with a guarantee of a year's contract and time off for professional development.

"It is the best system, I believe, in the world," Mr MacIver said.

The GTC registrar also said: "I despair when I hear of education being described in terms of audits, targets, outcomes, bottom lines, downsizing, job-sizing and assessment banks. The obsession with targets and outcomes is threatening to take the whole creative thrust out of teaching.

"Words like ideas, knowledge, potential, curious, discuss and explore must begin to dominate the agenda. We must unshackle teachers and allow them to be creative again. We must allow teaching to become enjoyable again."

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