Teachers know best

10th March 2000 at 00:00
IS ANYONE out there listening? It seems not, based on the story "Gloomy outlook for long summer holidays" (TESS, March 3). We had the same old arguments being produced by people who have no concept of what teaching is about.

Who really knows about how best to improve the education system in Scotland? Those who teach daily and are aware of every nut and bolt in the system and how best to improve it? Or careerists who have everything to gain by peddling the lies that we need to cut those ridiculously long holidays and by doing so we improve the system.

Let me put two important points: First, how many of our European partners have proposed a similar pattern for the teaching year? The answer is none. Are their lazy teachers failing the pupils?

Your average German or Frenchman will talk about how much the state puts into the education budget and that educational success is about devoting serious resources in order to achieve success. What nonsense to say the system in Scotland will work better, when an already demoralised profession are asked to do even more.

Second, the next lie to nail isthe one related to training and the whole question of in-service courses. Where are the good practical courses that are geared to meeting the needs of the teacher? As head of history in my school, I have yet to see any that would help in dealing with Higher Still.

We have, of course, suffered successive cuts, so that we no longer have a full-time history adviser,but we now have a part-time social subjects adviser. This is not an argument against teachers as a profession constantly updating their knowledge and skills, rather it again points to underfunding in education.

If Glasgow councillor Christopher Mason thinks the public

will not support the defence of teachers' conditions, he should remember that it was the Scottish Parliament that voted an even larger number of non-working days, as well as a substantial salary, to those politicians currently attacking teachers. Perhaps it is this display of self-interest that the public will remember, rather than those cheap attacks on an already overworked and under-resourced profession.

John Rae

Old Bothwell Road


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