'Time to trust teachers, not look over their shoulders'

5th June 1998 at 01:00
TEACHERS should be regarded as trusted professionals and not "deskilled operatives", Ian McCalman, Educational Institute of Scotland president, yesterday told his union's annual conference in Dundee.

There was an unfortunate tendency in recent years to distrust teacher autonomy and seek out ever more inquisitorial methods of supervising teachers, he said.

"That is, in our opinion, the antithesis of professionalism. It betrays a deep insecurity on the part of advocates of such approaches," Mr McCalman, a Glasgow secondary teacher, said.

"We do not wish to go down the road of teachers being regarded as deskilled operatives, mechanically dispensing a prescriptive curriculum which is totally externally assessed and evaluated."

Teachers had to be at the centre of curriculum development and student assessment, although there was a price to pay in workload and resources. But in a challenge to the left-wing, Mr McCalman made it clear union members could never seal themselves off from difficult decisions about educational advances. This was a coded reference to the call for a boycott of Higher Still reforms.

Mr McCalman concluded: "There are those who take the view that it is not possible to combine the role of a professional association, a contributor to educational debate and a public sector trade union. That is a view which which we disagree."

Nosday Scottish schools highly commended were Baldragon Academy, Dundee, and Kilsyth Academy. Schools commended were Peterhead Academy, Inverness Royal Academy, Ellon Academy, Corseford School in Johnstone, St Aloysius' College in Glasgow and St Ninian's High, Eastwood. The School House Home Education Association in Gourock was also commended.

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