Size may be everything

27th June 2003 at 01:00
The controversy over teachers' job-sizing was as inevitable as the exercise was complex. It has all the necessary ingredients - inter-union rivalry, salary sensitivities, the pecking order among promoted staff, fierce pride in the job, workload and so on. Each of these can provoke enmities on its own, without the explosive combination provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland has inevitably risen up in defence of a deal which its leading figures were instrumental in putting together.

Almost alone, the union has often appeared to plough a lonely furrow as education authorities, headteachers, probationers, supply teachers, guidance teachers - and sometimes its own members - have variously taken issue with the wrinkles that have appeared on the brow of the teachers'

agreement from time to time. The Executive might have been expected to talk up more enthusiastically than sporadically the concordat to which it, too, subscribed.

But when normally measured and respected headteachers start using terms such as "disastrous" and "damaging", it is perhaps time to review the criteria being used. The job-sizing toolkit appears to be the nub of the problem, rather than opposition to job-sizing in principle. So let us have a heated debate, as someone once said.

The schools could learn from the FE colleges where an opaque formula used to distribute the Government's annual grant among the colleges led to confusion and recrimination. Once the formula became more transparent, peace broke out. When such arrangements are perceived to part company with the realities on the ground, they are a recipe for fissures and strains.

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