Teachers threaten industrial action over shrinking resources

11th June 2010 at 01:00
Scottish teachers are voting this week on whether to take industrial action over education budget cuts and the introduction of the new curriculum

The annual conference of Scotland's largest union - the Educational Institute of Scotland - is facing calls for a ballot on strike action over dwindling resources as it meets this weekend in Dundee. Teachers claim posts are being cut and textbooks, paper, pencils and photocopying materials are becoming scarce in schools.

Delegates will also decide whether the Curriculum for Excellence should be boycotted until there is adequate funding for its delivery. Last month, members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association passed a similar motion for industrial action over CfE.

EIS activists calling the members to arms will not have a clear run in the debate. Rather than a boycott of the new curriculum, the EIS council, the principal executive committee, will argue for a "work to contract" until adequate resources are in place.

Under the 2001 teachers' agreement, A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century, a boycott would be legally difficult, it will say. But sticking to the 35-hour week would also have an impact and create delays, it will argue.

The last time Scottish teachers worked to rule was in the mid-1980s for the period of the salaries campaign.

Teachers stopped taking extra-curricular activities and carrying out curriculum development work.

However, even working to rule would look different under the national agreement which was set up following the McCrone Inquiry.

A Scottish Government-commissioned survey published earlier this year found that three-quarters of teachers believed they had not received enough training on the new curriculum, due to be implemented in full this August.

Secondary teachers were less confident about delivering CfE than their primary colleagues.

But primary schools are also struggling with the new curriculum, claimed outgoing president Helen Connor yesterday in her address to the conference.

"Although the main difficulties appear to be in the secondary sector, let me get rid of the myth that all is well and up and running in every primary school across the country," she said.

The suspension of inspection for five months in secondary schools would have also been welcomed in primary, she argued.

Miss Connor questioned "the deeply-held belief" that public cuts were inevitable and called on the Government to scrap the concordat and return ring-fencing.

"That way we at least know where the money is going and we are not in the middle of a blame game with Scotland's young people falling through the middle."

It was the first time in many years teachers had faced "major challenges", she continued. She called on members to become more actively involved in the union. The EIS was them; not someone else, she said.


New EIS president, page 7


A past president of the Educational Institute of Scotland has lost his latest battle with the union - but the war rumbles on. Peter Quigley, a retired English teacher and former Fife local association secretary, who was EIS president from 2006-07, has been locked in battle with the union since 2007.

He accuses the EIS of secrecy and irregularity in the way pay levels for union officials are settled upon. He also maintains the union falsely claimed he resigned from his position as past-president.

Most recently, he took complaints about his treatment to the Certification Office, the body responsible for determining complaints concerning breaches of trade union rules.

Last month, however, it ruled that none of Mr Quigley's five complaints against the union should be upheld. He has 42 days to appeal.

The fight, meanwhile, continues on another front. A motion due to be taken in private session today at the EIS annual conference, put forward by the Fife association, calls for the EIS ruling body to "review and report on any direct link between the salary of the EIS general secretary and that of headteachers" and to "advise on the means of terminating such a link, taking legal advice where necessary".

The EIS general secretary's salary is based on a formula - the salary of the highest-paid headteacher plus an additional 12.5 per cent.

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