Professionalism on a level playing field

15th June 2001 at 01:00
No sooner have the post-McCrone proposals been accepted, and before even the conclusion of local agreements, than we find that no less influential an individual than Karen Gillon, convener of the Scottish Parliament's education, culture and sport committee, starts manoeuvring to undermine not only the spirit of the agreement but also its letter.

I refer to the following astonishing statement made by Ms Gillon (TESS, last week): "If we get into a situation in which people are working only 35 hours, we will have failed Scottish education. Teachers will have failed and we will have failed as politicians."

To what can one ascribe such a statement? Almost complete ignorance of the McCrone agreement? (Just credible, but totally unacceptable for one in Ms Gillon's position.) Can it reflect a slave-driving mentality, which considers that a 35-hour working week (equivalent to a standard commercial 9am to 5pm working day with an hour lunch break, and also to the maximum working week of many of our more successful European neighbours), is some kind of skive?

Or is it the usual mindet which, despite flowery words about "professionalism", really holds teachers in contempt, as a bunch of naive nobodies who can be put upon almost without limit. I suspect it is a combination of all three.

I would welcome an explanation, from the school sports enthusiasts, such as Bill Young (secretary of the Scottish Schoolsport Federation) or Tony Gavin (head of St Margaret's Academy, Livingston), of just what is "professional" about, say, a fully qualified teacher of modern languages being compelled to act, possibly highly unwillingly, as a very amateur coachsupervisorreferee for some sport for which he or she has no aptitude or interest.

In case it should be stated that everyone has an interest in some sport, let me assure the "sporty" that this is by no means true.

There are plenty of fully com-mitted subject teachers, myself included, for whom sport is a closed book and who even assiduously avoided school sports when a pupil. We did not join the profession to be forced on to the sports field as adults.

Rory A Shand Holburn Road, Aberdeen

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