Smith should face EIS critics

15th August 2003 at 01:00
Until recently I was wondering whether or not Ronnie Smith was looking after the interests of secondary staff - now I am convinced he is not. I was astonished to read his response last week to Rory Mackenzie's legitimate concerns (TESS, August 1).

I do not think Rory Mackenzie was discriminating against pri-mary staff, nor was he suggesting that "colleagues in more deprived parts of Edinburgh" should not be recognised for the important work they do.

Ronnie Smith misses the point that the financial recognition that these colleagues thoroughly deserve should not be at the expense of colleagues in other schools - no matter how leafy a suburb they serve (I was unaware that the Educational Institute of Scotland is less inclined to look after the needs of members in such schools).

Having been a headteacher of a "more deprived" school for a number of years, last year I moved to become the rector of a school in Aberdeenshire.

In three years time my salary will be less than it is today. Does Ronnie Smith think this is reasonable? Have my interests been looked after? Like most staff, I am working harder today than ever and find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that my salary is being reduced.

I am also at a loss as to how the EIS could be comfortable with what has happened to 80 per cent of principal teacher salaries across Scotland, not for financial reasons, but for the long-term well-being of the profession.

All five of the PTs of guidance in my school have had their salaries reduced to the lowest banding. What does that say to them and how does it encourage staff to pursue a route in guidance?

The devaluing of the PT role in favour of chartered teacher status is bringing about a change from collective and collegiate approaches to middle management in favour of autonomous and individualised ways of working, the emphasis being on the self rather than the curricular area or department.

This is against the spirit of the agreement.

Ronnie Smith may have convinced himself that things are as planned and that we all signed up to the agreement. I challenge him to come and speak with all of my principal teachers and senior management team directly, listen to their views and tell them that they missed the detail in it.

Far from being content, if every promoted member of staff in Scotland who is a member of the EIS were to express his or her levels of unhappiness by resigning from that organisation, Ronnie Smith would indeed be free to look after the interests of primary staff without fear of criticism.

Neal McGowan Rector, Banchory Academy

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