I WAS disappointed and angry to hear Ronnie Smith, Education Institute of Scotland general secretary, announce that teachers "will have to accept that change is inevitable" when discussions about teachers' conditions and salaries are taking place. It would appear that Ronnie is as remote from the "real world" of the classroom as are the Scottish Office, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Inspectorate, the directorate and the senior management teams of most secondary schools.
The growth area in education has been administration. The "efficiencies" of devolved management and local authority reorganisation have made huge inroads into education budgets. In schools, management and guidance posts are burgeoning while classroom teachers face as many pupils in class as they faced a quarter of a century ago. More money is being spent on education but not in the areas where it could be effective: the classroom chemistry has become more, not less, volatile.
A hard and frustrating day in a classroom "gnaws at the soul" of a teacher. If they are to return for more on the next day it is essential that, at the close of school they are allowed the freedom to sit and recover, to fill the cathartic discipline forms, to mark jotters and tests, to prepare worksheets and assessments, to plan the next day's performances. Time for leisure and family is also important.
Classroom teachers already do more than enough work in a day (and in the academic year). It would simply be counter-productive for us to spend hours on a daily basis to oil the wheels of administration before we can do our real work after school. Planned activity time or supported study after school already guarantees that I am not fit to do any of my proper duties when I get home after a hard day plus overtime in school.
Classroom teachers deserve a large salary increase for what they already do. They are required to do more than a competent university graduate is capable of sustaining in terms of workload and psychological pressure. Look at the droves who are leaving the profession. Ronnie Smith is paid to fight for our rights.